By Thomas Sellers Jr.
A penalty kick gave the Millington Lady Trojans the edge in the regular season matchup.
Then the Covington Lady Chargers returned to Hornet Field Oct. 7 for the District 15-2A championship game pushing Millington to overtime of a shootout. The Lady Trojans survived that classic with a game-winning goal from goalie Kalia Duckworth.
The third game of this thrilling trilogy took Thursday evening once again at Hornet Field with the Regional championship on the line. In the past two seasons Millington has only suffered one defeat at its home field, coming in last year’s Regional title game to Fayette-Ware. In 2021, the Lady Trojans were poised to make history.
Winning 1-0 in another shootout against Covington courtesy of a Micaiah Halliburton kick, Millington captured the Regional championship and will host the first Sub-State game for girls’ soccer in school history.
“We’re really excited about this,” Millington Coach William Carter said. “We’ve worked hard for this and we’re excited about hosting. We definitely wanted to host either Dyersburg or South Gibson here. We didn’t want to go to them like last year. We feel really good about our chances. We know they’re both really good teams. They’ve destroyed some teams this year but I feel we’ve got a pretty good chance.”
Millington destroyed a few teams throughout the regular season but the Covington Lady Chargers were one of the toughest opponents for the Lady Trojans in 2021. The Lady Chargers took the lead against Millington for the first time this season in the first half.
About 3 minutes later, the Lady Trojans leading soccer Koreena Bedford deadlocked the contest with a goal making it 1-1 in regulation. The rest of the first half went scoreless and the final 40 minutes of regulation was 0-0. After two 10-minute overtime periods, the score was still 1-1.
Then it came time for the shootout. Duckworth got word from Coaches Carter and Rosemary Boswell she would be the sixth kicker if necessary. But the junior keeper wouldn’t allow the shootout to extend that far. Duckworth made two connect saves against the Lady Chargers.
“She’s been a little bit tired all day,” Carter acknowledged. “I am so glad she got it together. She’s just a ball-hawk. She knows how to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes she looked like she was learning during the season – a little bit of a mental fog. But that is burning off. “She just seems like she gets a lot better now,” he continued. “She’s such an asset to have back there. She made so many good calls. Have you ever seen in the penalty kick shootout so many being stopped like that?”
The Covington goalie matched Duckworth stop for stop except for attempt. District 15-2A Defensive Player of the Year Halliburton was slotted in the third kicker spot replacing an injured Bedford.
“She was nervous and sometimes I like Micaiah in those types of positions so she can look up to me with those eyes, ‘Are you sure Coach?’” Carter said. “I know she could do it and she could handle it. I was not surprised when she made it. I knew she could do it. You’ve seen her enough. There is no sport she can’t play and be competitive at. She can do just whatever she wants. She can play offense, defense or midfield. You can put her in any place.”
Halliburton was a striker during her freshman season but has settled into the defensive leadership role the past two seasons. When it came time for the senior to relive her offensive days, Halliburton blasted a shot into the net giving Millington the 1-0 advantage. On Covington’s fourth shootout attempt, Duckworth made a two-hand block. The Lady Trojans made history winning the school’s first Regional Girls Soccer Tournament.
“It’s been a good, close competitive match,” Carter said. “It’s been a good clean match. We’re very similar to them in a lot of ways and we play a similar style. It was good to beat them. I was nervous there at the end. When those kicks weren’t going in for either team I was like ‘What is this?’ This feels good, really good.”