Before the playoffs began, Laurel boys soccer coach Markel Milsap promised his team they would find themselves in the South State title game if they stayed the course.
And so they’ll be.
Laurel beat Gautier, 1-0, Saturday afternoon ‘Between the Bricks’ in the quarterfinals of the 5A playoffs to advance.
Laurel (11-9-4) will face Long Beach (13-2-3) in next Tuesday’s 5A South State title game. Long Beach knocked off West Jones 1-0 late Saturday night to advance.
"The number one thing with our team was making sure we stay consistent and fight to the end," said Milsap. "At the beginning of the year, we had a group playing as individuals. Towards the end, we started working together as a team. I'm so proud of these guys."
Senior midfielder William Mora scored the lone goal of the match. His shot just inside the 18-yard box ended 61 minutes of goalless soccer.
"It wasn't easy," said Milsap of the one-goal game. "Our guys were frustrated with [nothing finding it's mark]. At the half, our senior captain and goalkeeper got on the rest of the guys.
"Our one goal came from the effort, energy, and putting it all on the line."
"It happened so fast," said Mora about this second-half goal. "I was kinda surprised it went in. All I wanted to do so get us a score. The opportunity presented itself, and I executed."
There’s one person in particular who Milsap credits for the position his team is in as the only Jones County team left standing in the playoffs.
“Coach Martinez deserves the credit,” Milsap said. “This is his foundation. He brought up this team since they were in seventh grade. I just got lucky enough to coach these [senior] guys in their last year.”