By Thomas Sellers Jr.
When Millington Municipal Schools were formed in 2014, a bunch of new faces arrived on the campus in administrative, faculty and staff positions the first couple of years.
For one of those new teachers, the keys to the Millington Soccer program were handed over. William Carter would be in charge of both the girls’ and boys’ teams. At his introductory press conference, Carter said he would use his educational and military experience to create a winning culture.
And before leaving that interview, Carter noted he would love to see a championship banner be placed inside the William Osteen Gymnasium while he was the leader of the program.
On Thursday night that declaration for a title came true with a 3-2 win over the heated-rival Fayette-Ware Lady Wildcats at Hornet Field for the District 15-2A Tournament championship.
“Five years I’ve been a part of this program,” Carter reflected moments after the overtime victory. “It feels phenomenal to see this come to fruition. That first year we were 0-10. Then Ms. Boswell came on in my second year here.”
Right by his side when the final seconds ticked off the clock to conclude the second half of overtime was Rosemary Boswell. The two coaches embraced before rushing the field to great their players.
“We had a .500 that second season and started to turn things around,” Carter continued. “The last two years they’ve been at the district championship game. It’s great because we finally broke through winning the district regular season and now we’re tournament champs. We’re looking forward to Regionals as well.”
Last season the Lady Trojans made history reaching the district championship and earning the program’s first Regional Tournament birth. Fast forward to Thursday night, the Millington girls brought home the school’s first district championship and will be the top seed for Regionals.
“We had to go the full 100 minutes for this one,” Carter said. “When you’ve got the best offensive player in the district out there, No. 5 for their team. And we have the best defensive player Micaiah Halliburton, I just put her on her to cancel her out. Once Micaiah shadowed CeCe and neutralized her, it became a 10-on-10 match. And I liked our 10 over their 10 because we have slightly better players.”
The two evenly matched teams played to a 2-1 decision in the favor of Millington during the regular season. The rematch was a thriller with the Lady Trojans holding a 1-0 lead at halftime courtesy of a Koreena Bedford goal at the 38th minute.
The Lady Wildcats tied the game at 1-1 10 minutes into the second half. Millington regain the lead five minutes later when Bedford sent a shot toward the net that bounced off a Fayette-Ware defender and slipped underneath the blocking-kick attempt of the Lady Wildcat goalie.
It appeared for the next 23 minutes Millington was about to win the game 2-1 and make history. But history could have to wait a few minutes when Fayette-Ware tied the game at 2-2 with about 2 minutes left in regulation.
Facing a pair of 10-minute halves, the Lady Trojans regrouped and changed their defensive strategy and intensity to keep the first half scoreless.
Then the breakthrough Millington needed came a minute into the final overtime half. Bedford launched a shot toward the net that eventually crossed the goalie line.
“It’s kind of unbelievable,” Millington senior striker Alexis Jordan said. “We’ve been working so hard for this moment. We’re so glad we’ve got it. It feels so surreal and amazing to finally make it this far as a team. I love them so much for this.
“It feels amazing to leave something behind for the school as a senior,” she added. “Winning a championship, winning districts it’s unbelievable as a senior to make it this far. To do all the things we’ve done it’s amazing right now.”
Besides an eventual banner coming, Jordan said her era of Lady Trojan Soccer has been a joyous, historic journey.
“It feels just absolutely amazing to be a part of the first championship and do all of those things,” she said. “When we look back we can say we were the first ones to do that and do that. Everyone behind us will look forward to this and say ‘We want to be where they were at.’ We leave something behind for them to work up to.”
Just like on the first day he took over the program, Carter was still keeping an eye on the future during the historic celebration.
“As far as the program we have a lot of talent here,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, I’ve been wanting to hang some kind of soccer banner up in there in our gymnasium for a long, long time. I feel like we have good enough talent here.
“With our boys team we have a lot of talent here too,” Carter concluded. “I’m inspired by our girls here too. I know we’re losing Alexis Jordan but I’m looking forward to another special season with our girls here again.”