January 29, 2010 9:27:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Don''t underestimate the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science boys soccer team.
If you do, you could find yourself sitting on the sidelines and watching the Blue Wave advance in the North Half State playoffs.
MSMS (6-1) took the first step on its postseason journey Tuesday with a 2-1 victory against Forest in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A/2A/3A North Half State tournament.
The victory pushed MSMS into a second-round game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Corinth.
Seniors Josh "Brody" Rester and Ryan Mackay and junior Taylor Potter said the victory is the program''s first in the postseason in a number of years.
"We didn''t really know what to expect from Forest," Mackay said. "We have been playing mostly in our district (against Aberdeen and Winona), but we played well. It was very satisfying."
Chad Hickman and Bo Weems scored goals for MSMS on Tuesday to help it keep its season alive. Many in the area and the state probably thought MSMS, the state''s only public, residential, co-educational high school for academically talented juniors and seniors, would have turned its attention to the classroom at this point in the soccer season.
After all, the school, which is on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women in downtown Columbus, and focuses on academics offers only swimming, cross country, soccer, and tennis for its students.
Still, both soccer teams (the girls lost to Philadelphia 2-1 Tuesday in the first round) have overcome abbreviated schedules and the lack of a true practice soccer field or a game field on campus to advance to the postseason.
The results for the boys shouldn''t be too surprising. MSMS beat Class 5A New Hope in the regular season and tied Class 6A Columbus in a preseason tournament.
The victory and tie were especially satisfying for Mackay and Rester, who are from Columbus. They admit they have heard the whispers from opponents doubting the ability of the players because they attend an academic school. They also are used to having teams overlook them and count MSMS as a victory on their schedule.
"We got really lucky this year because of how many people were interested," Mackay said. "We just have a lot of talent."
Potter said the team''s heart and will to win have helped it overcome the doubters. He said a core of 13 juniors (four seniors) means this season won''t be a one-time fluke.
"You''re not expected to have athletes when you go to an academic school," said Potter, who is from Yazoo County. "Most people when they hear MSMS they don''t think, ''Oh, they''re going to be in the playoffs, they''re going to be at the math tournament.'' "
Potter said the team''s success this season gives him confidence to feel that next season could be even better. If all 13 juniors return, he feels the passion and the love for the game of soccer that has motivated the team this season will be greater next season.
"It feels good for me, and I would guess for Ryan, too, that as captains we were able to keep the team going and get people interested," Rester said. "To know that that will continue next year it feels really good, probably more so than wining in the playoffs."
But that doesn''t mean MSMS is ready for Saturday to be the final day of its season. In fact, Potter said there''s no reason why 2010 can''t be a championship season.
"With the heart our players have I think if we play hard enough we can do it," Potter said. "We just have to make sure we lock down."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.