The Clinton Lady Arrows and the Gulfport Lady Admirals played for the MHSAA Class 6A Soccer State Championship on Monday, February 6, 2023, at Ridgeland High School in Ridgeland, Miss. Photo by Chris Todd

By Robert Wilson
Photos by Chris Todd

Clinton girls soccer coach Elliott Rimmer had a hunch his Lady Arrows would have a good chance to making it back to the MHSAA Class 6A state championship game for the second consecutive season after losing only one starter off last year’s team.

       Rimmer’s hunch was right on.

       Clinton, which finished second to Northwest Rankin in last year’s state title game, went all the way this season and won its second state title in school history with a 1-0 victory over Gulfport Monday night at Ridgeland.

       Clinton – ranked No. 4 in Mississippi and No. 46 in the country in MaxPreps – finished 15-6-2 and won its first state title since 1997, almost a decade before any of the players on this year’s team were born. Clinton lost to Northwest Rankin 2-0 in last year’s state championship game. Gulfport – ranked No. 1 in Mississippi and No. 19 in the country by MaxPreps – finished 19-2-2 and missed a chance to win its second state title in three seasons. The two teams tied 0-0 during the regular season.

       The Clinton boys also won the 6A state title Saturday, giving Clinton two state soccer titles in the same year. The only other time the girls won it in 1997, Clinton’s boys won state also.

       Clinton was the first team to win both boys and girls state Class 6A soccer titles in Madison Central did it in 2014 and 2015.

       Sophomore forward Isabella Jones scored the only goal of the game, off an assist by junior midfielder Cooper Holmes, at the 33rd minute, seven minutes before halftime.

       Clinton’s solid defense kept Gulfport scoreless for its 15th shutout this season. Gulfport failed to score only twice this season, both times to Clinton. Gulfport has only been shutout five times in the past three seasons, three of those against Clinton. Junior goalkeeper Sarah Polk and junior center back McKenzie Price keys the Lady Arrows’ defense. Freshman Kayla Jones scored a team-high 17 goals this season.

       “We knew coming in that if we got the breakthrough, our defense could hold,” said Rimmer, who is in his third season as Clinton’s head coach. “Isabella got one good chance, took advantage of it, and put us in front. Yesterday, we challenged our back line and our defensive midfielders to bottle up Gulfport’s excellent offense, and they didn’t just rise up to the occasion, they went above and beyond. (Sophomore) Mandy Leach and Cooper Holmes did an excellent job denying them opportunities, and in the last minute, (senior) Breanna Richards hit two massive tackles to seal the game.”

       Look for Clinton to have a good chance to a possible repeat state title and third straight state championship appearance.

       Said Rimmer: “Next year, we return 10 starters, and these girls already have their eyes on running it back.”