January 28, 2011 7:44:00 AM
One Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science soccer team might have a little more motivation than the other Thursday night in their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A-2A-3A playoff openers.
But both teams played with equal amounts of intensity, which is why they earned the right to keep their seasons alive.
Caitlyn Chambers and Brooke Meitzler scored goals in the girls team''s 2-0 victory against Mooreville, while Dylan Mims'' goal in the second half lifted the MSMS boys to a 1-0 victory.
Both teams will play Madison-St. Joe in a doubleheader that will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Girls coach Dr. Bill Odom gave his players 39 reasons to be motivated Thursday. The number is special because it was the one Odom wore in high school when he played. The tactic worked as the girls (5-3) rebounded from a 5-1 loss to Columbus on Saturday.
"I feel it is just the magic that starts our game and gets us into it," Chambers said of the talk Odom gives the team before every match. She said Odom plans to tell the team something before every match, but that no one knows what it is going to be.
On Thursday, Meitzler, who is from Picayune, said Odom also used the fact that The Dispatch credited a goal she scored in a 2-0 victory against Aberdeen on Jan. 18 to another player. Due to an unknown jersey swap, Meitzler was wearing another number for that match.
But she was more motivated by Odom''s creativity and the fact he was wearing a No. 39 jersey under his shirt. He also had his high school No. 39, which she said was a quarter of the size of the one he was wearing.
The ability to take that motivation and apply it is just one sign of how well the team has come together, said Meitzler, who hadn''t played soccer since she was in the second or third grade.
"The game is about communication, and as long as you have that and you know where your players are going to be whenever you need them there, you have the game. You just can''t give up," Meitzler said. "Communication and passing were the keys tonight."
Those ingredients also were key for the boys, who improved to 8-0. The Blue Wave controlled the match with a deft possession attack that would appear difficult to manage considering the school is only for juniors and seniors.
Mims, a junior transfer from Heritage Academy, capitalized on the Blue Wave''s pressure when he converted a free kick early in the second half. The shot was so effective it went through a hole in the back of the net.
Mims smiled when asked if his shot was so strong that it created the opening. But he credited his teammates for helping to make him feel at home at the school and on the squad after initial concerns about how he would fare after leaving Heritage Academy.
"We worked hard in August and we busted our butts when all we could do was run," said Mims, whose sister, Jessee, plays soccer at Itawamba Community College, and whose father, Morri, is the coach of the MSMS boys soccer team. "It has showed up. We''re going to the second round. I have never been there before. I had never been to the playoffs. This was huge for us. I love all of these guys."
Mims said he has never been with a team that has wanted to win something so bad. He said all of the players strive to make each other feel like they are at home. For a team that has members from all over the state, that could be difficult, but the Blue Wave have made it look easy.
"It has been that little extra thing you get in practice but you don''t get all of it," Mims said. "It is that time when you stay together and you hang out on the weekend, or you sit in your dorm together. You trust guys. It is that and working hard on the field. All of the guys out here will work for anybody."
Senior defender Morgan Weems, who is in his second year with the team, agreed. He said the players on the team have grown closer since last year and the new players have fit in nicely. He said it also helps that many of the guys on the team have played Select soccer.
The result is another playoff appearance and a level of play that might be "amazing" to some, but not to the Blue Wave.
"We can bond better than other high schools because we are, in a way, forced to," Weems said. "But we enjoy it, and I love it. (This year) Is a step forward."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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