The Meridian Star
For 11 minutes, the Philadelphia boys soccer team held heavily favored Sacred Heart Catholic School to a 0-0 tie in the Class 1A/2A/3A State Championship at Clinton High School on Saturday. The next five minutes, however, wouldn't be as kind to the Tornadoes.
Sacred Heart forward Tyler Flathau broke the tie in the game's 12th minute after receiving a pass from teammate Noah Billingsley and burying it into the back of the net. Three minutes later Sacred Heart's Austin Robbins would add the Crusaders second goal. Two minutes after that, Jon Moreno would all but end the game, giving Sacred Heart a 3-0 lead in the 17th minute, as Sacred Heart rolled to an 8-0 win against Philadelphia.
“After the first one it looked like we relaxed a little bit,” Philadelphia head coach Adam Huddleston said. “Then two three and four came around quick, and the rest of the game we just tussled with them. Sacred Heart is one of the top teams in the state of Mississippi, and there is a reason for it.”
The Crusaders were not even close to finished. Robbins would add another goal before the half, as the Philadelphia went into the break down 4-0. Sacred Heart controlled the ball the majority of the half, only allowing one shot on goal in the game's first 40 minutes.
“It is unbelievable the amount of talent they have,” Huddleston said. “It looks like their team works together really well, they have been there for a while. They have won this game a couple years in a row, and it showed today.”
The Crusaders would pick up right were they left off, scoring three goals in the opening seven minutes of the second half. The 8-0 victory tied the Mississippi record for largest margin of victory in a state championship — Pearl's 8-0 victory against Florence in 2008 and Madison-St. Joseph's 9-1 victory against West Lauderdale in 2005 were the other two games. Sacred Heart also became the fifth team to win a state championship in soccer in both boys and girls in the same year, as the girls team took down South Pontotoc 4-1 earlier in the day.
“It's pretty sweet man,” Sacred Heart head coach Joe Falla Jr. said. “It's a great a achievement, something that I would have never dreamed possible. Not only to win back-to-back championships, but for the girls to win too.
“I's just remarkable for the school . I told somebody the other day, we are not even a 1A school, we are a 1 lower-case-A. This program when I started had 13 kids, now it is up to 30. I'm just proud of these kids.”
Moreno would lead the Crusaders, knocking in the game's final two goals en route to bring total to three on the day. While recording the hat trick was special for the forward, Moreno said he was far more happy about his team's achievement.
“It is a legacy now,” Moreno said “To win back to back is just huge. I am just so proud to be a student and a player at Sacred Heart.”
If Huddleston and the Tornadoes know one thing, it is how to bounce back. The Tornadoes regrouped this year after losing 3-1 to Sacred Heart in last year's final, and Huddleston expects his team to come back next year ready to make another trip to Clinton.
“We just need to start back over again,” Huddleston said. “It starts in the summer league, back to camp, working and trying to get better and back here again next year. We are waiting for the payoff, that is going to be the next thing to happen.”