The Meridian Star
Pontotoc forward Rafael Vidana has always dreamed of leading the Warriors to a state championship. However, not even Vidana could have dreamed up his performance Saturday, as he helped Pontotoc to a 6-2 win against West Lauderdale in the 4A state championship at Clinton High School, tallying three goals and two assists on the day.
“I never thought I could do that,” Vidana said. “I was just looking at it as a team. I have been scoring most of the goals for my team, but that's what I am here for.”
West Lauderdale took control of the game in the game's opening minutes, controlling possession and keeping the the ball on its side of the field. However, a counter-attack break for Vidana in fifth minute would open the game up for Pontotoc. Vidana was able to get behind the West Lauderdale defense on the left side line and power a goal past West Lauderdale goal keeper Cody Anderson to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
“We just weren't prepared for their speed,” West Lauderdale head coach Bryan Miley said. “(Vidana) is a great player, and we did everything we could do to stop him.”
West would have plenty of opportunities in the opening minutes, including when midfielder Tyler Germany hit the right post in the 10 minute, but the Knights were unable to capitalize early.
Vidana would come up big again in the 29th minute, as he set up teammate Diego Pizarro on a well-placed cross to extend the lead to 2-0.
West Lauderdale's Caleb Carpenter would score off a corner kick right before the half to cut the lead to 2-1 headed into the break. However, Pontotoc would come out strong again in the second half.
After missing the first half of the game due to a red card at North State, Pontotoc midfielder Fredy Gutierrez made his presence known early in the second half. The talented scorer put a away a goal in the box three minutes into the second half to increase the lead to 3-1.
“It was really hard sitting on the bench the first half,” Gutierrez said. “I am never on the bench, I hate being on the bench. I was really ready to go in and score.”
Pontotoc would go on to score two more goals to increase the lead to 5-1 before Chris Mallette connected on the Knight's second goal. But, it was too late as the game was already too far out of reach.
“Sometimes it's a tough lesson,” Miley said. “This team will persevere and move on and I couldn't be anymore proud of them.”