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Ross, MHS girls' soccer squad on another roll

By Staff
Jan. 9, 2001
I have previously said in this newspaper that I would never be surprised at anything accomplished by the girls' soccer program at Meridian High School.
Well … I guess I lied.
From the in-case-you-missed-it department: This past Friday night, the Lady Wildcats blanked Northwest Rankin 7-0 in a high school soccer match here at Meridian's Ray Stadium.
And for those of you out there who like me are soccer-challenged, let me put that final score in perspective for you:
It's like the Meridian High football team beating Brandon 49-0; or perhaps the MHS basketball teams whipping Jackson Murrah by seven buckets; or maybe even the Lady Wildcats' softball team run-ruling West Lauderdale.
It's big.
Let's don't forget that Northwest Rankin is the team which prematurely ended Meridian's dream of winning the Class 5A state championship a little less than a year ago.
Remember? The Lady Wildcats were 22-0-1 … riding a 22-game winning streak after a season-opening tie … and had been ranked No. 1 in the state nearly the whole year.
But all that came crashing down with the loss to Northwest Rankin. And after a couple of early-season defeats this year dropped MHS to No. 10 in the rankings, some folks across the state may have forgotten the Lady Wildcats returned the nucleus of the 1999-00 squad.
Trust me when I say that last Friday's 7-0 win over Northwest Rankin ranked No. 7 last week re-freshened the memory of those folks.
It wouldn't be fair for me to tell you the Lady Wildcats beat a Northwest Rankin squad at full strength. Meridian coach Pat Ross says the Lady Cougars had two or three key starters missing.
But Northwest Rankin without two or three starters is still better than most other teams in the state.
And maybe, a combination of those factors and Ray Stadium. It's been more than two seasons since the Wildcat football team lost there, but the Lady Wildcats' soccer team hasn't lost a home match in three years.
That's 23 wins and no losses since a 2-1 setback to Oak Grove during the 1997-98 season.
Actually, a lot of pride. And a lot of experienced talent.
As Ross put it, the core of the Lady Wildcats Ramey Rush, Erin Brown, Deanna Harris and Julie Pollman to name a few "have been going to school together their whole lives."
They've played soccer together just about that long.
Rush, ranked the No. 2 high school girls' athlete in the area by The Meridian Star as a junior, is this week's player of the week in the state after scoring four goals last Friday. Harris scored two goals … Brown the other.
Meridian, 9-2, dropped a 2-1 decision to a very talented Clinton team in a game that Ross says could have gone either way. Then, without a couple of starters, they lost in a shootout to Warren Central.
My hope is that it's the Lady Wildcats. This the last hurrah for Rush, Brown, Harris, Pollman and company, and it just won't seem right if they don't win a state title.
Ross is one of the most dedicated workers I know. Ditto for the four players mentioned above, which should make for a good combination when the playoffs roll around again in early February.
If nothing else, Ross says the relaxed mindset of his players and the experience of last season has to help.
To finish on top, Ross knows he'll likely have to face Northwest Rankin again … as well as folks like Clinton, Warren Central, Tupelo or Brandon.
One of those seven or so teams which could win it all is Madison Central, which visits Meridian today at 5:30 p.m. The Lady Wildcats are at home again Friday at the same time against St. Andrews, with both games serving as the opener of a girls'/boys' doubleheader.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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