By Robert Wilson

       Both two-time defending MAIS Division I boys soccer champion Jackson Academy and 2022 Division I runner-up Hartfield Academy were looking to regain its confidence Thursday night in a rematch of last year’s state championship game.

       Thanks to a goal by JA senior Win Hooker, the Raiders found some confidence. Hartfield is still searching.

       Hooker scored with 2 minutes, 45 seconds to play in the second 10-minute overtime period to give JA a 3-2 victory over Hartfield in a conference game at JA’s Raider Field in Northeast Jackson.

       JA improved to 6-3-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play. Hartfield dropped to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

       Both teams lost its first conference game in their last game before Thursday. JA dropped a 2-0 decision to Jackson Prep Monday at JA. Hartfield lost to Presbyterian Christian 1-0 Tuesday in Hattiesburg.

       Thursday’s game was a rematch of last year’s championship game when No. 2 seed JA defeated No. 1 seed Hartfield 4-2 to win its second straight title. It was JA’s 10th state title in school history, and it was the fifth straight season JA had been in the state championship game. JA’s state title two years ago ended Prep’s 10-year state championship reign. Hartfield had won the Division II title the two seasons before moving up to Division I last year. JA gave Hartfield its only two losses last season and ended Hartfield’s 23-game unbeaten streak. 

Like last year’s state title when JA jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Hartfield climbed back into the game, JA junior center back Ford Childress and senior midfielder/defender Andrew Harrison scored one goal reach to give JA a 2-0 halftime lead. Then, Hartfield senior Gage Sorey and junior Hudson Edwards scored one goal each in the second half for a 2-2 tie. No one scored in the final 24 minutes to force overtime.

No team scored in the first 10-minute overtime period and it looked like it might go into a sudden death overtime period when JA put together a score. Harrison had a free kick from the right side and crossed it into the box at the back post. Hooker headed it into the net from about 5 yards out.

“Win is one of our captains along with Andrew and has been a huge part of our team’s success as a midfielder/defender,” JA coach Phillip Buffington said. “Win has played center back most of the year but has started playing defensive midfield recently.

“If it hadn’t been for a really good performance by our (senior) goalkeeper Louis Summerford, we definitely would have lost. Louis made several great saves last night just he did throughout the Prep game. He’s been in great form the last couple of weeks.”

“It was a physical game, and we didn’t implement our style of play so we struggled to get into the rhythm of the game,” Hartfield coach Jake Benton said. “JA’s keeper was a force and made some really good saves and deal with most of our crosses in the box. We created plenty of chances and weren’t able to capitalize on them. We had some good individual performances but need to string it together more as a team. I’m looking forward to how the rest of the season shakes out. There’s some strong teams and even across the board for the most part.”