The road to a State Championship begins for 36 high school soccer teams across the “Southern Six” counties this weekend. The 2 and 3 seeds open play on Friday and Saturday with games from Highway 90 to I-20. Boys’ Division winners: Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Long Beach, George County, Poplarville, and Pass Christian received byes and hosted games on Tuesday night. Girls’ division winners: Gulfport, Ocean Springs, George County, West Harrison, Poplarville, Stone, and St. Patrick have the weekend off as well with home games on Tuesday, January 24, as well.
Play-in games were originally scheduled to be played on Saturday but potential weather has moved several games to Friday with things kicking off at 3:00 pm as D’Iberville travels to Pearl in a girl’s contest with the same two boys’ teams to follow. Also, in 6A girls Hancock travels to Oak Grove and Warren Central will be at St. Martin both starting at 5:30. Biloxi host Petal at 6:00. The D’Iberville-Pearl winner gets a trip to Gulfport while Brandon gets the Warren Central-St. Martin winner. The other half of the South bracket has Ocean Springs hosting the survivor of Hancock-Oak Grove, while the Petal-Biloxi winner gets a trip to defending 6A State Champion NW Rankin.
In 5A Girls, South State runner-up George County opens play next Tuesday facing the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Picayune and Laurel. Friday night at 5:30, Hattiesburg travels to Long Beach with the winner of that contest facing defending champion Florence. A Florence-George County rematch will come in the South State semifinals this season if both teams advance. Saturday sees Brookhaven traveling to Hurley to take on East Central at 1:00 while at 12 noon Gautier travels to West Jones. South Jones draws the EC-Brookhaven winner while West Harrison gets the Gautier-West Jones survivor.
In Class 4A, Stone opens a defense of its title at home awaiting the winner of Purvis and Sumrall. Pass Christian gets the loser of Columbia and Lawrence County at home while Bay gets the winner of that contest on the road. Poplarville and Bay could meet in the next round if the Lady Tigers can go on the road and pick up a win. In the Class I Playoffs, the regular season finale between OLA and Sacred Heart will determine whether the Lady Crescents host Crystal Springs or travel to Magee to open the playoffs. St. Patrick awaits the winner of the West Lincoln and SE Lauderdale.
On the boys’ side, in 6A besides D’Iberville, Petal travels to Gulfport Friday at 6:00, while Harrison Central heads up to Oak Grove at 7:00. Saturday at 11:00, St. Martin host Terry. Defending South State Champion NW Rankin gets the Petal-Gulfport winner while Ocean Springs awaits the winner of Harrison Central-Oak Grove. The other side of the South bracket has Brandon hosting the Terry-St. Martin winner while Biloxi gets the winner of D’Iberville-Pearl.
Long Beach looks for back-to-back 5A titles by getting the winner of Gautier and Florence. East Central hosts Brookhaven with the winner heading to South Jones. Pearl River Central has Laurel with the winner taking on West Jones and Picayune will be at Wayne County with the winner heading to George County on Tuesday night.
In 4A, Bay High tries to improve on last year’s state runner-up spot as they host either Columbia or Lawrence County. A win by the Tigers would send them to Sumrall Tuesday night. Stone travels to North Pike and if they advance would head west on Highway 26 to take on Poplarville. Pass Christian awaits the winner of Purvis and NE Jones. In the Class I playoffs, St. Stanislaus looks to defend their title but must open on the road at Magee. St. Patrick will open at home as they host McLaurin.