By Robert Wilson
Photos by Jared Thomas
Florence High moved up a classification this school year, moving from MHSAA Class 4A to Class 5A.
The move up didn’t bother the Florence girls soccer team as the Lady Eagles won the Class 5A state title with a 3-2 victory over three-time defending 5A state champion Lafayette Saturday at Madison Central.
It was the second consecutive state title and five straight state title game appearance for Florence. The Lady Eagles won the Class 4A state title last year.
Florence finished with a 22-1 record and won its last 18 games. The only loss was a 6-2 decision to Class 6A state champion Northwest Rankin. Lafayette finished 18-4.
Florence has won three state titles and two runner-up finishes under coach Bill Hood in his seven seasons there. He has a remarkable 128-27-12 record, an 82.5 percent winning percentage. He won two MAIS state titles and two runners up finishes playing soccer for Washington School in the late 1990s.
Florence has won other two girls soccer state titles, both by the late Gray Massey in 2012 and 2013. Massey, who played with Hood at Mississippi College, passed away suddenly three years ago. He coached Florence from 2006-2013.
Lafayette’s Caroline Perkins and Florence’s Shaelynn Quick scored one goal each in the first half for a 1-1 tie. Florence took a 2-1 lead when Quick passed to Christina Guzman for a goal six minutes into the second half. Addie Grace Barnard scored off on a corner kick for a 3-1 Florence lead with 27 minutes to play. Lafayette’s Hudson Lindsay scored to cut the lead to 3-2 with 19 minutes to play.
“This was definitely a season to remember,” Hood said. “We left 4A on a high and stepped into 5A for the repeat. I had an amazing group with a lot of talent but had to be very mentally strong this year. We’ve built on year after year of success and it’s a testament to the players that have come and gone that have built this program to what it is currently. My seniors were amazing leaders and everyone worked for each other, the true definition of a team. I couldn’t be prouder. Our community has really supported us, and it shows. I’m happy that we’ve been able to make them proud.”