by Hunter Dawkins

As the Long Beach Bearcats soccer teams were more than motivated from last year’s loss at Brandon High School for the MHSAA 5A State Championship, the girls and boys left everything on the field.  Despite the large crowd from Long Beach to the college-size field off Highway 18 right outside of Jackson, neither team would bring the coveted State Title home.

GIRLS:  Lafayette County 5 Long Beach 1

Haven only given up four goals in 2019, so far the Lafayette County Lady Commodores (24-2) came out aggressive and took it to the Long Beach (15-7-2) Lady Bearcats defense.  After the 21st minute, the Lady Commodores struck first knocking a laser shot in past Long Beach Freshman Goalie Ashton Rupert for an early 1-0 lead.

The Lady Bearcats quickly responded with a goal from Long Beach Sophomore Midfielder Amanda Anderson who received a great pass from Junior Forward Julia Geertsema to tie the game 1-1.

Lafayette County received a clear shot near the stoppage of the first half and converted this kick for a 2-1 halftime lead.  The Lady Commodores took this momentum to the second half and never let up, scoring three goals and not allowing the Lady Bearcats across midfield much.  Once the bell rung, the final score was Lafayette County 5 Long Beach 1.

“It definitely wasn’t the result we wanted and we didn’t play our best and the score reflected that,” said Long Beach Girls Soccer Coach Haley Hammons.  “Walking away from this game and I couldn’t be more proud of these girls as they gave it everything they had.”

The Lady Bearcats lose four seniors:  Kayla Bush, Alexa Beets, Holly Weaver and Captain Susie Stevison.  “These girls mean a lot,” said Hammons.  “It’s gonna be a tough transition, but we are returning 22 players if they try out next year and some key returning players.”

BOYS:  Lewisburg 2 Long Beach 1

The Long Beach Bearcats Boys Soccer had 11 Seniors coming into this game with winning seven games in a row, but a salty taste in their mouth from their 2018 loss to Saltillo 3-1 in the state title.  Facing a perennial powerhouse in the Lewisburg Patriots, the time of possessions went back and forth leaving nothing on the scoreboard at the end of the first half.

Opening the second half with aggressive movement, the Long Beach Bearcats scored at the 36 minute as Senior Forward Connor Clarke put a ball through the net after receiving a deflected pass from Junior Midfielder Stanley Trzaska.  This gave the Bearcats a 1-0 lead.

The energy ran out for the Bearcats once the game ran under ten minutes.  After a few corner-kicks, the Patriots finally converted one with not much time left.

Lewisburg found new life and became more physical, as a few yellow cards were given.  With 3 minutes left in the game, the Patriots found a hole in the Long Beach defense and put a kick into the net for a 2-1 lead.  The Bearcats tried, but could not recover.

“I thought we played good soccer,” said Long Beach Boys Soccer Coach Andee Wilburn.  “The thing that hurts the most, as I told the rest of the team is not the loss but losing the seniors.”

The Long Beach Bearcats Seniors were:  Gavin Sanzin, Captain Chase Dedeaux, Joseph Burkett, Rhybert McNab, Captain Danny Nguyen, Carson Favre, Connor Clarke, Joshua Crawford, Andrew Goforth, Kai Vancourt and Sebastian Mink.  “We had some (seniors) in the backline, at midfield and at the top.” said Wilburn.  “They worked really hard tonight.”

This achievement was the first time in Long Beach High School History having both teams play in the state title game for the second consecutive year.