By Danny C. Davis
Last year, the Clinton High Lady Arrows Soccer team won their first state championship since 1997, after finishing as the runner-up state champion in 2021-2022 and playing in the state championship game for three of the past four seasons.
On February 6, 2023, the Lady Arrows defeated the Gulfport Lady Admirals 1-0 to earn the title.
The Lady Arrows are hoping to repeat as the now-Class 7A girls state champions this season.
A year ago, the Clinton Lady Arrows started the season slow, but finished the season with a very strong run of nine wins, one loss, and a tie.
But CHS has started this season strong, with, at press time, an 8-0-1 record, having only surrendered four goals in ten games, with six shutouts.
The Clinton girls, rated as high as #3 nationally in some polls, are 3-0 in district play, with wins over Germantown, 3-0, Madison Central, 1-0 on a penalty kick in overtime, and Tupelo, 2-1 in overtime.
CHS has also defeated tough competitors in Biloxi, Oak Grove, Brandon, Southaven and Oxford, while tying Ocean Springs and Lewisburg.
At press time, the Lady Arrows were scheduled to close out December with a district game with Starkville.
According to Lady Arrow fourth-year head coach Elliot Rimmer, CHS only lost three starters from last year’s championship run, with the majority of the team returning.
Key returners this season include fifth-year starting goal keeper Sarah Polk. She will be backed up by freshman Ellyn Burchfield.
Also returning on defense are Mckenzie Price, who anchored the defense a year ago, alongside Mandy Leach and Jada Watson. Other returning starting players include Cooper Holmes, Kate Crisler, Zoie Zumbro, Cooper Pletezke, Mia Card, Kayla Jones, Isabella Jones and Lauren Warner.
“All of those girls are so talented that any of them can step in and do the job anywhere on the field,” said Rimmer. “It is a joy to coach such talented players.”
Key newcomers include Ja’Milah, who is only a seventh grader, and sophomore Ruby Acy, who both could have a breakthrough season.
According to Rimmer, one of the things that he preaches to the players daily is to guard against complacency.
“We talk often about how important it is that we do not rest on what we have done or what happened in the past,” said Rimmer. “None of that matters now. No one we play is going to lay down and give up when they play us, just because of what we did last year. We will have to continue to push the envelope and be ready for the best game of everyone’s season every time we play.”
“We need to stay mentally strong every time we play,” said Rimmer.
“Our success this year will not be measured just by wins and losses,” Rimmer continued, “but rather if we are better today than we were yesterday. Hopefully, if we are constantly trying to better ourselves, this will lead to more wins than losses this season.”