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Jackson Academy girls soccer Phillip Buffington has a two-game championship game winning streak over his alma mater, Jackson Prep, and his former coach, Jon Marcus Duncan, in MAIS state championship games.
Eighth-grader Caroline Weir scored a goal with 3 minutes to play in the second, 10-minute overtime period to give the JA girls a 1-0 victory over two-time defending MAIS Division 3 state champion Prep Monday afternoon at Prep. Buffington and JA defeated Prep and Duncan 6-2 to win the MAIS boys title in February.
JA finished 17-4-1 and won its first state girls title since a three-peat from 2016-2018 and its fifth in history. Coach Nic Henderson won JA’s first in 2009 and coach Robert Gardner the three from 2016-2018. Prep finished 16-4. The teams split two regular season meetings, JA won 3-1 Sept. 2 at Prep and Prep won 2-0 Sept. 28 at JA. Prep had defeated JA in the finals for the past two seasons.
After 80 minutes of regulation, the two teams went into overtime. No one scored in the first 10-minute overtime period, then JA scored when junior Kendall Ross made a 20-yard pass down the middle of the field to junior Addison Comer, who did a one-touch tap back to Weir, who kicked the ball from the 20-yard mark into the left corner of the goal just past the outstretched hands of Prep goalkeeper Madeleine Black.
“Caroline played her first minutes of the game when she came in with seven minutes to go in overtime,” Buffington said. “She’s very young and talented player who has played well for us throughout the year. She’s had some really big moments for us this year and obviously none bigger than the one tonight that gave us the lead in the dying minutes in the dying minutes of the second overtime.”
It was JA’s 11th shutout this season.
“Anna Adkins, Mylee Maurer, Lani Roberts and Madi Brewer were our starting back four,” Buffington said. “They played good from start to finish. Ebbie Barbour, Olivia Salvo and Gracelynn Carmichael, who moved to center back when Mylee was being evaluated for an injury, all played well in the minutes we needed from them. I thought all of our players were much better defensively than when we played them at JA two weeks ago.”
Buffington, who was an assistant for three years before taking over for Gardner three years ago, is considered one of the top boys players in Mississippi history. He set a Mississippi record with 61 goals his senior season for Prep in 2005. He led the Patriots to four straight state titles and was an eighth grader in Duncan’s first year at Prep. Buffington played one year at Marshall University then three years at Mississippi College. He played three years of pro soccer, two in the United States and one in Australia. He has been coaching club soccer with the Mississippi Fire, now Mississippi Rush, since 2012 and was head coach at Manchester Academy in Yazoo City from 2013-2016 before coming to JA in the fall of 2016.
Duncan was denied his 28th state championship again by Buffington. Duncan has won 14 boys state titles – including 10 in a row from 2011-2020 – and 13 girls state titles in his 22 years at Prep.
“I thought we came out and were the better team in the first half,” Duncan said. “JA did a great job keeping us out of the net (only the third time Prep had been shutout this season). In the second half, again we created some real good chances but were unlucky in the finishing department. Soccer can be a cruel game at times. All it takes is one goal and that’s the difference. JA got the goal, and we didn’t. Congrats to Coach Buffington, his players, his assistant coaches on a great season and a state championship. We have a great group coming back next year and I’m really proud of this senior group and their accomplishments.
“Our defense was the heart and soul of this team for sure. They’ve done a tremendous job all year. Josie Duncan, Anders Morgan, Annie Jicka, Kelsey Clay, and Kate Ferguson played great defense. Madeleine did a great job as her first year to play goalkeeper. She improved every day and worked so hard throughout the season. I’m so proud of her.”