Meridian Nukes capture Under-12 state crown
By By Robby Atkinson / staff writer
May 7, 2004
Last week was almost a dream for the Meridian Nukes.
They captured the 2004 Under-12 Mississippi State Youth Soccer Championship with a 3-2 win over Pearl in the title game.
Meridian trailed for most of the game, but Joey Lawn scored the game-winning goal in the final minute to propel the Nukes to the championship. Nate Hodges provided the assist to set up the goal for Lawn.
Jerry McReynolds has coached youth soccer for 23 years and the state championship this year was his first ever title as a coach in recreation soccer.
"The kids are just fun to be around and this group of kids has been fun to coach this year," said McReynolds. "I have coached many kids through the years and seeing them enjoy playing the game is a joy."
Meridian opened the tournament by taking convincing wins over a pair of teams from the Bay St. Louis area. The Nukes won its opening-round game 6-0 and bounced back in round two with a 6-1 victory at Brandon.
In the semifinals of the tournament, the Nukes defeated Greenwood 5-2 to advance into the finals against the Pearl Silver Streak.
Meridian trailed 2-1 at one point for the first time in the tournament, but the Nukes pulled out the one-goal win thanks to the goal from Lawn in the final minute.
"It was a hard fought game," said McReynolds. "We made some changes during the game which turned out to make the difference."
The Meridian Nukes finished the 2004 season with an undefeated record among teams in the Meridian area, which is a feat considering the amount of teams that compete in recreation soccer in the city of Meridian.
"We went through the league undefeated and these kids are up to the task when it is time to play," said McReynolds.
"We may not be the best team in practice, but when it is time for us to play in a game-type situation they rise to the occasion."