Photos by Chris Todd
Story by Robert Wilson

MADISON – Sophomore Kendall Ross scored with 2 minutes, 50 seconds to play in the second, sudden death overtime to give Jackson Academy a 2-1 victory over Madison-Ridgeland Academy Tuesday night in the MAIS Division I girls soccer semifinals at MRA.
Ross took a pass from eighth-grader Aubrey Edmonson, took a few dribbles down the JA sideline, turned and lofted a high kick, which went over the MRA goal keeper into the bottom left of the goal, hit the left post and bounced into the back of the net for the game-winner. It was about a 30-yard kick from a difficult angle.
JA, which improved to 5-7-4, meets Jackson Prep in a rematch of last year’s state title game. Prep ended JA’s three year state championship run last season with a 2-1 victory in the state title game. Prep, 12-3-2, defeated Presbyterian Christian 6-0 in the other semifinal. JA has lost to Prep twice, both times 2-0, during the regular season. JA and Prep are scheduled to play this year’s state title game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at MRA. MRA finished 8-4-1.
JA came into Tuesday’s game after losing to MRA twice by identical 2-0 scores during the regular season. The Lady Raiders took a 1-0 lead right before halftime when freshman Avery Kobs scored. MRA tied the game two minutes into the second half when junior Hunter Thompson scored. No one else scored in the remaining 38 minutes of regulation, two 10 minute overtime periods and one 5 minute, sudden death overtime period. The two teams were less than 3 minutes from deciding the winner with five penalty kicks from each team. JA junior goal keeper Jordan Bertschler and the Raider defense, led by senior Ava Couey and junior Lani Roberts, kept the Patriots from scoring for the last 55 minutes.
“We moved our regular keeper (sophomore Addi Roberts) to the field and Jordan to keeper,” second-year JA coach Phillip Buffington said. “Addi has given us a spark in the field and the girls and I have complete confidence in Jordan in the net. Jordan played lights out. It’s the best I’ve ever seen her play.”
“I was pleased with how hard our girls played for 100-plus minutes, but we have to finish our opportunities in front of the goal,” said MRA coach Lauren Stratton.