By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Two teams heading in the same direction but taking different lanes are the Brighton Lady Cardinals and Millington Lady Trojans.
The two soccer teams met at the intersection called mid-September of the 2021 season Sept. 14 at the Brighton Soccer Field.
The Lady Cardinals were playing their second game in as many nights after a two-week layoff. Meanwhile the Lady Trojans made the trip up to Tipton County after beating rival Munford and dominating Fayette-Ware to clinch their district championship.
“They were running their mouths for about the first 5 minutes and then we quieted them down and sucked the air out of their stadium,” Millington Coach William Carter recalled of the Fayette-Ware game. “We got a chance to play everybody.”
Millington entered the Brighton matchup fresh off the 7-2 victory in Fayette County. The Lady Cardinals were coming into the game with the Lady Trojans seeking some redemption after jumping out 1-0 against Bartlett. Then the Lady Panthers closed out the contest with the final 5 goals.
“We actually haven’t had a game in almost two weeks,” Brighton Coach Kelsi Williams noted. “It feels good to get back out here.
“We were looking for effort and we got it,” she added. “That has been the big thing we’ve been focusing on this year, that we struggled with last year. As long as the girls give it their all and put the effort together as a team, we’re not really worried about the final score right now.”
Good thing Coach Williams wasn’t too focused on the final score against Millington because the contest ended tied at 1-1. Brighton took the early lead in the first 10 minutes of the game courtesy of a Cassidy Jones goal.
The Lady Cardinals nursed the 1-0 advantage into the second half when Lady Trojan Tess Cook deadlocked the game with a rebound goal.
Both teams had timely defensive plays from their back lines. The Lady Trojans got a clutch performance from Kalia Duckworth in goal stopping a flurry of Lady Cardinal shots in the final 5 minutes.
Prior to Duckworth’s saves, the Millington line led by Micaiah Halliburton, Alexis Thompson, TraOnna Blake, Christina Cook, Rilee Ervin and Dayana Hernandez neutralized the Brighton offense. Millington’s counterparts for the Lady Cardinals did their jobs to limit the Lady Trojan offense of attackers Koreena Bedford and Keria McGhee.Brighton’s line of Jade Davis, Karsen Wadell, Ivy Carson, Kelsey Brown and Bailey Woods protected their goalie down the stretch.
“We needed to see their heart,” Williams said of her team. “They’ve got to want it. I don’t think it has set in, last night we had a district game. This is leading up to a district game that we have on Thursday. I think they haven’t come to the realization that we’re fighting for a district spot right now.”
Brighton’s new league has grown from the four-team set up of the past. Playing teams closer to Memphis, the challenge has intensified for the Lady Cardinals.
“Last year we were in a district that pretty much guaranteed a spot in the district tournament,” Williams said. “This year we have six teams and only the top four get a spot in our district tournament. It’s based on our rankings. So it’s getting down to the wire. We just had our first district game and we have another one Thursday. They don’t realize how important these games are and that districts is on the line.”
Millington has its district regular season title wrapped up. The Lady Trojan coaches Carter and Rosemary Boswell are setting sights on postseason against teams like Covington, South Gibson and Dyersburg potentially on the docket.
Carter said his girls will use the rest of the regular season to reach an A-leave for October.
“I will give them a B-minus right now,” Carter said. “This is a stretch in the season to where they’ve had a good run. They were 5-2-1 coming into this. They’re winning the game that matter the most — the district games. They’re doing really well in them.
“The first game we lost in the beginning of the season, I would like to play Fayette Academy again,” he concluded. “And Harding Academy I am not going to take anything from them. They’re a good team. Besides them, we’ve been competitive in every game and we’ve tied or won. I feel really good where we’re at.”