Meridian Community College women’s soccer head coach Mike Smith knew he was receiving a talented player when Meridian High School forward MeMe Huff committed to play for the Eagles in the spring. Smith, who doubles as the girls soccer coach at MHS, has coached Huff since she was eight years old. But, even he is still a little surprised with just how well his freshman forward has performed this season.
After two goals Saturday, including the game-winner in the Eagles’ 3-2 overtime victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Huff increased her season total to 15 through seven games. The win brought the Eagles to 7-0 (3-0) on the season.
“Big-time players make plays in big-time games,” Smith said after the win.”
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, Huff is also on pace to shatter the MCC record for goals in a season at 27.
“I’m going for it,” Huff said before Saturday’s game. “I would really love for that to happen.”
Despite the early success, Huff has been quick to deflect the spotlight, choosing instead to credit MCC’s undefeated start to a full team effort.
“Kayla Phillips, one of our center mids from Clarkdale, she always places the ball perfectly where I can get it and just knock it in,” Huff said. “After I score the goal, if it’s her assist, I always go to her and give her a hug because she did all the work. I just have to finish. Most of my goals were from her assists.”
The Bulldogs’ defense honed in on Huff on Saturday, keeping constant note of her whereabouts on the pitch and doubling her with the ball at her feet. Smith said he expects opposing defenses to continue to give her extra attention as the season goes on.
“She’s a freshman, so the first time we play teams they don’t know anything about her,” he said. “I’m sure the second time we play these teams this year they’ll be keying on MeMe. That should open some doors for other players.”
If that’s the case, Huff said she will be more than happy to dump the ball off to her teammates. Even as a freshman, Huff has stepped up as a leader for the Eagles this season. On top of her performance on the field, she also hosts a weekly bible study at her house every Monday night.
Her teammates were one of the reasons Huff chose to play for MCC over Pearl River Community College, Spring Hill University and Mobile University. But, she said the No. 1 reason she chose to play for the Eagles was her relationship with Smith.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best coaches in the state,” Huff said. “He’s one of the main reasons why I came here. When I’m playing and I’m having a bad game, I can can just look at him and he always just says one word—confidence.... hit it with confidence. That’s one thing that definitely helps me.”
Smith is just as happy to have Huff on board, calling her “a pleasure to coach.”
“I got lucky,” Smith said. “I feel so lucky that she came here to play for a few years and I get to continue to coach her.”
MCC became the only Mississippi junior college to claim a national title in soccer when the men’s team took home the title in 2000. This year, Huff and the Eagles have their eyes on equalling the feat from the women’s side.
“All I wanted in high school was a state championship,” Huff said. “I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to win a national championship. I think it could happen this year, because our team is so close chemistry wise. As the season has gone on, we have gotten to be like a family. If we are all on the same page and in sync, we can go for that.”