August 29, 2009 11:38:00 PM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Records sometimes don''t tell the entire story.
Artie Cosby has been around sports long enough to know that.
Now his goal is to help the Starkville Academy girls soccer team put a few more victories on the left side of the ledger.
Haley Jenkins, Jessica Dennis, and Sallie Kate Richardson each scored two goals Saturday to help the Starkville Academy girls soccer team defeat Heritage Academy 8-0.
The win was the first of the season for the Lady Volunteers (1-4-1, 1-2 in conference) and the first for Cosby in his first season as the team''s coach.
"We are an extremely young team," Cosby said. "We have five seniors and after that we have one junior and then we drop back to seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-graders. In our starting lineup we basically have eight girls that are ninth grade and younger."
Cosby, who was a kicker for the Mississippi State football team from 1983-86, said the Lady Volunteers have been competitive in every match they have played this season only to fall short.
He said Starkville Academy lost in a shootout at The Washington School and lost to Madison-Ridgeland Academy 2-1 at home after it led 1-0. He said the team spent much of last week in practice working on ball possession and trying to find ways to finish matches.
One way the Lady Volunteers are trying to do that is experimenting with new positions. Jenkins started her first game at center forward and made an impact.
"She scored a beautiful goal when she turned, twisted, and created some space and put it in," Cosby said. "That''s big-league stuff right there."
The Lady Volunteers implemented what they practiced for much of the match Saturday. They controlled play and were the more aggressive squad, winning the majority of the 50-50 balls and limiting Heritage Academy (3-2) to only one shot on goal in the first half.
Jessee Mims had the Lady Patriots'' only shot on goal just before the first half ended.
Heritage Academy coach Krisi Boren encouraged her players at halftime to raise their level of play. She said the team had worked too hard in the offseason and in the preseason to allow Starkville Academy to control the play.
The Lady Patriots responded and pressured the Lady Volunteers for the first few minutes of the second half, prompting Boren to say to no one in particular, "Why couldn''t we do this in the first half?"
But Starkville Academy regained control of the match thanks to Dennis'' second goal of the match. She capitalized on a failed clearance following a goal kick with a left-footed shot that made it 5-0.
Anna McKell, Richardson, and Katherine Robertson (penalty kick) added goals to close the scoring. Tiffany Huddleston added two assists.
"I knew what to expect because I knew Starkville is a very good team and they have very skilled players," Boren said. "One thing we have been doing, for some reason, is starting flat-footed. I have been trying to get us out of that. Today, I don''t think we were quite there. I think we have made some progress, but I don''t think our full 17 have made that adjustment yet (to a higher division)."
Boren said she doesn''t know how the Lady Patriots will correct things coming off back-to-back shutout losses to The Washington School and to Starkville, but she said she will find a way to get the team to play to its potential.
"I just want us to play to our best ability," Boren said. "I know that we are much better than what this score and the last score (against Washington -- 7-0 last Tuesday) show."
Cosby believes the Lady Volunteers are better than their records shows. He said the players believe in themselves and their teammates and that the key is to find a way to make some breaks to push things in their favor.
"Every team we have played we could have beaten," Cosby said.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.