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Knights drop state title bout

By Staff
UP IN THE AIR West Lauderdale Josh Murphey (18) flies in front of St. Joseph's Rucker Culpepper (10) for the ball during the packed state championship game in Pearl Saturday.
Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Ryan Satcher/staff writer
Feb. 10, 2002
PEARL In every championship game, someone has to walk away with a loss. Unfortunately for the Knights of West Lauderdale, Saturday was not their time to come out on top.
West Lauderdale came up just short as it fell to St. Joseph Catholic High School 5-3 in the MHSAA 1A-2A-3A Boys State Soccer Championship here at Pearl High School on Saturday.
It was the third time in four years that West Lauderdale fell in the title game.
The Knights won the title in 2000.
The Knights struck first on Saturday. About eight minutes into the first half senior sweeper Will Moseley took a free kick from just inside midfield and blasted a shot that flew over the keeper's head and into the net for an incredible goal.
St. Joseph came down the field seconds after the goal and had a good chance when John Spencer took a shot that was deflected away by Knight keeper Tyler Skelton.
The ball went back to Spencer who crossed the ball towards a teammate, but the West Lauderdale defense stepped in to clear the ball away.
Two minutes later the Bruins tied the game when Henry Lawrence sent a pass to Spencer when the goalie was out.
Spencer shot the ball past the Knight defense and into the open net to tie the game 1-1.
Just a minute later the Bruins took the lead when Tripp Harkins sent a cross to the middle of the field.
Spencer headed the ball nicely past the goalie to give St. Joseph the lead.
West Lauderdale came up just short on a couple of scoring chances later in the half. C.J. Fountain sent a nice cross to Josh Murphey, but St. Joseph goalie Chris Taylor made a great save by knocking Murphey's blast over the goal.
Minutes later Murphey just missed once again when his header off of a corner kick sailed just over the goal and the game remained 2-1.
The Bruins expanded their lead with 21:40 seconds left when they took a quick throw-in to Lawrence who got some space and beat the keeper to make the score 3-1.
With about eight minutes left in the half the Knights got another chance when Fountain and Taylor both went up for a pass from West Lauderdale's Andrew Culpepper.
The ball got loose from the keeper and bounced around but the Knights were unable to get off a shot.
Then with just a few seconds left in the half, Brandon Rodgers took a shot that was saved by the goalie but bounced free. Fountain slid and kicked the ball into the goal to make the score 3-2 at the half.
St. Joseph came out in the second half determined to get some breathing room. Victor Cobb sent a pass to Spencer who headed the ball just over the goal.
Then ten minutes into the second half the Bruins scored on a corner kick. The corner bounced around in the box and then was settled by Cobb. He took a shot from the right side of the field and the ball found the left corner of the net to make the score 4-2.
West Lauderdale put pressure on the St. Joseph goal when Rodgers sent a beautiful pass to Murphey behind the Bruin defense.
Murphey couldn't quite get a foot on the ball and the keeper fell on it to stop the threat.
St. Joseph threatened a few times but the Knight defense kept the ball out of the net to keep West Lauderdale in the game.
Then with 18:09 left in the game Fountain made a great pass to Rodgers behind the St. Joseph defense. Rodgers beat the charging goalie with a shot into the left side of the goal and made the score 4-3.
The Knights went all out in the final minutes of the game and got a chance when Culpepper found Fountain in some space. The shot by Fountain was deflected away by a defender.
The Bruins scored with three seconds left in the game when Lawrence fed Harkins with a pass to make the final margin two goals.
West Lauderdale finishes the year with an 18-5 record on the season and runner-up in Division 1A-2A-3A. St. Joseph, which is located in Madison, finishes at 17-7.