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Division title belongs to Cats

By Staff
FANCY FOOTWORK Meridian's Chris Jefferies (22) kicks the ball against Hattiesburg defenders Tuesday. The Wildcats defeated Hattiesburg 3-2 to wrap up the Division 5 title. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star.
By Fredie Carmichael/Special to The Star
Jan. 24, 2001
Meridian wrapped up two division titles on a frigid field at Ray Stadium Tuesday night as both the boys' and girls' soccer teams claimed wins over Hattiesburg.
The Lady Wildcats beat the visiting Lady Tigers 6-0 in the opener, while the Meridian boys won in a shootout 3-2.
Just prior to the start of the boys game, Wildcat coach Mike Sullivan found out that starting goalkeeper Patrick Widen would not be able to play due to an injured wrist. That put third stringer Derrick Mowdy in as the starter for MHS.
Meridian didn't waste time giving Mowdy a little room to breathe as Robert Barr scored on a penalty kick just two minutes into the game to give the Cats an early 1-0 lead. Mowdy showed that he was ready to play as he made a great play on a Hattiesburg penalty kick to keep MHS in front 1-0 with 9:21 left in the half.
The Cats were unable to convert countless opportunities and ended the half with a slim 1-0 lead.
The visiting Tigers came out of the gates in the second half with a quick putback goal off of a penalty kick that knotted it at 1-1 with 34:22 left in the game. The Cats continued to put pressure on the Tigers in the second half but just couldn't seem to put it in the net.
The Cats and Tigers ended regulation in a 1-1 tie as Mowdy made another great save on an HHS penalty kick in the closing seconds of regulation.
Hattiesburg broke the tie early in the first 10-minute period of overtime as George Medley scored on a penalty kick at the 8:11 mark. Meridian answered 6 minutes later as a knifing Andrew Gambrell cut through a crowd of defenders and deflected the direct free kick of teammate Clayton Vaughn into the back of the net to tie it at 2-2.
Neither team scored in the second period of overtime as both squads prepared for a shootout.
The first shootout saw both the Cats and Tigers knot a 4-4 tie.
Widen opted to play through the pain and was in goal for Meridian in the shootout.
Widen's presence proved to be the deciding factor for the Cats as he made a diving save to end the second shootout 2-1, advantage Meridian.
MHS clinched the Division 5 title with the win and will host a first-round playoff game Feb. 3 at Ray Stadium.
In girls' action the eighth-ranked Lady Cats got off to a slow start, but got four goals in the second half to take the 6-0 win over Hattiesburg.
The win gave MHS a perfect division record at 4-0 and moved the Lady Wildcats to 13-2 overall.
Meridian's Ramey Rush got the first goal of the game just 5 minutes into the game as she put the Lady Cats in front 1-0 with 14:49 to play in the half. MHS didn't score again until minutes before the half as Kirsten Gambrell nailed a corner kick that put the Lady Cats on top 2-0 at the half.
Rush scored her second and third goals of the game midway through the second half and MHS was on its way to a big 6-0 win. Kelly Brown and Emily Bryan netted the last two goals for the Lady Cats.
Both Meridian teams travel to Brandon for their next action Friday.