Meridian opens playoffs with win

By By Cassie Chance/Special to the Star
Feb. 3, 2001
Mike Sullivan's Meridian Wildcats have had their ups and downs this season. Despite finishing with an overall regular season record of 9-13-1 against a brutal schedule, the Wildcats won the Division 5-5A title.
That granted the Wildcats the right to host a first-round game in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A soccer playoffs.
Meridian met Division 8-5A runner-up Harrison Central Friday night at Ray Stadium. And while the chilly weather may have kept many people from attending, the action on the field was far from cold, as the Wildcats came from behind take a thrilling, 4-3 victory.
Harrison Central head coach Karl Friedrich credited the Wildcats for their ability to not give up.
The Red Rebels and Wildcats battled defensively for most of the first half before Tyler Talkington found the back of the net from the far side of the field to give Harrison Central the early 1-0 lead with just under 15 minutes remaining before intermission.
However, less than eight minutes later, Leslie Rush tied the game at 1-1 as he scored the Wildcats' first goal of the evening.
Meridian went up 2-1 with just over five minutes to go in the half on a Chris Jeffares goal. Both the Wildcats and Red Rebels registered nine shots on goal during the first half.
The second half saw more defensive action, but also more scoring.
Meridian's Andrew Gambrell scored the Wildcats' third goal to give them an edge before Robert Barr's penalty kick put the Wildcats up 4-1. Meridian also had nine shots on goal in the second half.
The Red Rebels rallied by scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes to make Sullivan a little nervous. The first came on a long shot from Michael Willis, while Brent Orr cut the Wildcats' margin to one. The Red Rebels had an opportunity to tie the game, but were unable to get the ball down the field and into scoring range.
Harrison Central finished the season with a 13-7-1 record. The Wildcats will travel to the winner of the Brandon/Pascagoula matchup scheduled for today on Tuesday.