CALEDONIA – Caledonia High School football fans got their money’s worth on Friday night: Two games were extended, both home teams won and both won the MHSAA Class 4A, Region 2 championships.
About two hours after Kerry Ann Reed scored the winning goal in extra time for the Caledonia girls in a 2-1 victory over Itawamba Agricultural, Ethan Rollins did the same for the boys, sparking a wild party on the Caledonia soccer field.
“It’s so exciting,” Rollins said. “Winning a district championship is a dream come true. The last time we did that was when I was in ninth grade. Winning last year is amazing.
The Cavaliers (12-4-1, 7-0 4A-2) played an interesting game in regulation time, scoring in a first half in which neither team created many scoring chances. quality and then failing to score in the second half when they dominated play and sent the ball into the box each time.
“Teams try to press us really hard, and as that fatigue starts to wear off throughout the game — I tell boys all the time, you can’t press for 80 minutes. It’s impossible.. —– and the teams are starting to get a little tired, I think more space is starting to open up.
But it was the Indians who scored the only goal of the second half, getting the equalizer in the 45th minute on a ball that senior Cavaliers goalkeeper Carson Elliott had no chance of stopping.
The Cavaliers had taken the lead late in the first half, when Rollins was awarded a goal in the 37th minute.
“It was definitely an own goal,” Rollins said. “I kind of flipped him around behind me, and he just bumped into the other guy and went in.”
Either way, the teams were tied 1-1 after 80 minutes.
“We were very confident,” said Aiden Farmer, a senior captain. “We were the better team in the second half, the whole game actually, and they were just tired. And with our work ethic… In overtime, we just worked way more than them.
The Cavaliers had a few chances in the first extra period, although neither shot was on target. Then, midway through the second extra period, Itawamba was called off for a handball just outside the box. After clarifying whether the free kick was direct or indirect, Rollins lined up from 18 yards out.
He sent a low-line drive to goal, which deflected off the keeper’s fingers and into the net.
“After the settlement, the coach told us to keep our heads up, it’s coming,” Rollins said. “And it did.”
“The boys kept pushing for a goal and they got it, and that was fantastic,” Blake said.
Blake said the two wins were practically mirror images of each other.
“It was very similar to the boys game,” he said. “Very competitive game, and we knew that from the start. The only team they lost to in the division was us.”
Very competitive can be a nice way of saying very physical. The girls’ game was very choppy, but the boys’ game was clean but almost brutal at times. Three players went down on a play, and later in the game one player took a ball to his face at close range.
“Some people don’t quite understand the physicality of football,” Blake said. “It’s an extremely physical sport. Your body can take a beating.
Because there’s certainty atop 4A-4, the Cavaliers boys already know their first-round playoff opponent. Second-placed West Lauderdale will travel to Caledonia to open the playoffs at 6 p.m. on January 25.
But the Cavaliers may take some time to savor what has been a regional undefeated season so far and the dramatic manner in which they won the title.
“We’ve worked extremely hard in the offseason, more than any other team, I believe, and it shows, like tonight,” Rollins said.
“I’m proud of my boys and I’m glad we did what we did,” Farmer said. “We just had to keep pushing and believing in ourselves.
“I tell my guys that I believe in them before every game and in training every day. I love my guys, and they believe in them too. And that’s how you have to think. »