By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It’s never too early to start history.
The 10 a.m. kickoff between the Dyersburg Lady Trojans and Millington Lady Trojans at Hornet Field didn’t keep the faithful away. Automobiles were parked on the hill and the bleachers were full for the first Sectionals Millington Lady Trojan Soccer in school history.
Millington traveled last year for Sub-State suffering a tough defeat. But the 2021 edition of the game was in Shelby County with the Millington version of black and gold ruling the day.
For 80-minutes of non-stop action, the visitors from Dyer County left victorious 3-2. Millington coaches William Carter and Rosemary Boswell felt the disappointment but tried to put the historic season with a district and Regional championship into a proper perspective.
“It’s been a great season,” Carter said. “I knew at the end of last year at season’s end we would have a great year if everybody came back out. We got a couple of extra players and a good freshman class. So I had a feeling we would have a really good run this year. And we got close — real close.”
The one-goal difference came down to various factors. But a pivotal moment came at the 37-minute mark of the first half.
After Dyersburg jumped out 1-0 about 5 minutes into the game, Millington deadlocked the score at 1-1 at the 10-minute mark courtesy of a Keria McGhee goal.
Then both teams evenly possessed the ball and played solid defense for the next 27 minutes. The crucial moment came when Millington tried to substitute in two players. Apparently three Lady Trojans in the home uniforms ran off the field.
Millington played the next 5 minutes at a player disadvantage. Even coaches from the Dyersburg side noted the situation and alerted the Millington staff. But there wasn’t anything Millington could do until a stoppage. Before a whistle could allow Millington to even up the odds, Dyersburg scored to take a 2-1 lead before halftime.
“We lost today and that was on me,” Carter acknowledged. “We had a bad substitution there at the end of the first half. So we had to play down a man for about 5 minutes and that’s when they got the go-ahead goal. You have to put that one on me.
“Our girls played really tough today and they stayed with them today kick for kick,” he continued. “We had the momentum there at the end and they were feeling the pressure. If we didn’t have that one screw up there at the end of the half that was one me, we would still be playing.”
The Lady Trojans of Dyersburg seemed to put the game away for good, scoring a third goal with about 8 minutes left in the contest.
Millington had a sense of urgency and with the verbal encouragement of Carter, the Lady Trojans of Millington fought and applied pressure leading to a Lexi Thompson goal to make the tally 3-2.
In the final five minutes, Dyersburg kept the ball near midfield to secure the win and trip to the State Tournament.
“We’re walking off this field really proud of our girls,” Carter said. “But we’re a little bit upset because we feel like we could have beaten them. A lot of our girls are feeling maybe there were some things we could have done better.
“We knew they were going to cross it to No. 10 and No. 13,” he concluded. “We had the game plan and maybe we could have practiced those switches a little bit more on defense and transition. If we as coaches could have done a little bit more we could have gotten our girls over the top. Because our team is as good as there’s or maybe better. We just came up one short today.”