By Robert Wilson
Photos by Chris Todd

The Clinton Arrows soccer team hosted the Starkville Yellowjackets in the Class 6A North State Championship at Clinton High School in Clinton, Miss., on Tuesday, January, 31, 2023.

       Clinton High – the top ranked boys soccer team in the country by MaxPreps – is like the United States Post Office. Not even bad weather conditions can slow them down from reaching their objective.

       The Arrows, like the USPS, made another successful delivery Tuesday night with a 3-0 victory over Starkville in the MHSAA Class 6A state semifinals at Clinton’s Arrow Field in cold and rainy conditions.

       Clinton, now 20-0-1, goes its second consecutive state championship and 11th in school history against Brandon, a 2-0 winner over Gulfport in the other semifinal, Saturday at 6 p.m. at Ridgeland High. The two teams haven’t played each other this season. Clinton’s only blemish from a perfect record is a 1-1 tie with Northwest Rankin Dec. 6 at Northwest Rankin. Clinton, which finished 15-5-2 last season, has an 25-game unbeaten streak dating back to a 3-2 loss to Northwest Rankin in the last regular season game a year ago. Clinton defeated Northwest Rankin 10 for the state championship last season.

       Starkville finished 15-5, including two losses to Clinton. Clinton defeated Starkville 4-1 Nov. 12 at Lewisburg during the regular season.

       Junior forward Brice Nunnery put Clinton up 1-0 when he scored midway through the first half at the 20th minute. Senior center midfielder Hayden Thomas gave Clinton a 2-0 lead with a goal 15minutes into the second half. And Nunnery scored his second goal off an assist by junior center midfielder Hayden Wolfe with 10 minutes to play for a 3-0 Clinton cushion.

       Junior goalkeeper Caleb Pemberton in the first half and sophomore goalkeeper Jesus Estrada in the second half along with junior defender Brady Torrence and senior defender Charles Chisolm kept Starkville from scoring. It was the 11th shutout for the Arrows this season.

       “We struggled to get going early on,” said Clinton coach Tyler Wade, a Pearl High and Mississippi College graduate who has been Clinton’s head coach for 10 seasons. “The weather played a factor for sure, but we adjusted and created the first goal off a set piece on top of the box. Going into halftime, I felt better about the way we were playing. In the second half, I felt like we played a lot better in the attacking half and created several chances early on. We eventually scored on a penalty kick to make it 2-0 and a quality header off a corner kick to make it 3-0. Starkville is quality team and we really had to compete to win. It was a tough game.”