Lady Wave looking at a killer weekend.

One might think that the Tupelo Lady Wave soccer team would kick back and take a rest as playoffs are approaching. Instead they are turning the heat up on themselves by scheduling a weekend of road games stacked with top-notch competition. Tupelo travels to #4 ranked Clinton this Friday, January 19 and then have Saturday games at #5 Ridgeland and #6 Madison Central.

Defending 5A state champs.

Thirty-nine games without being beaten.

Nineteen games and only two goals scored against them.

Number one ranking in the state.

One might think that the Tupelo Lady Wave soccer team would kick back and take a rest as playoffs are approaching. Instead they are turning the heat up on themselves by scheduling a weekend of road games stacked with top-notch competition.

Tupelo travels to #4 ranked Clinton this Friday, January 19 and then have Saturday games at #5 Ridgeland and #6 Madison Central. As with the Tupelo boys' team, the Lady Wave sit atop the soccer rankings, but the rest of the Top Ten girls' teams are from the Jackson area or below.

Coach Shelly Miller's team faces the same scheduling issues as the boys' team. "We try to schedule at least three trips to Jackson each season. We like to try and fit as many games [during those trips] in as we can." Most of the Lady Wave's local area games end up with lopsided scores. Playing Jackson area teams "keeps our girls on their toes," Miller says. And her team knows the road to Jackson well after winning championships in 2003, 2004, and 2006.

Another way to keep on their toes is playing the Tupelo boys' JV team from time to time. The speed of that game is greater than they are used to seeing, and it provides a good measuring stick for them. The girls have not beaten the boys' JV team, but they have tied them before.

The 05-06 Lady Wave team featured Lydia Rice, Laura Hamm, and Hanna Weatherly, the three headed monster that dominated opponents. Rice and Weatherly were both named Girls' Soccer Player of the year. But this year's team is comprised of girls that do not get as much publicity. Yet the team is still winning and winning big. The key? Team chemistry.

"You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't get along you still might not win," says Coach Miller. She is intentional about doing team-building activities regularly. "Before a big game or big weekend we will go out to eat together and maybe see a movie afterwards." And most girls are friends off the field as well.

And while the girls' soccer player of the year might not be on the team, there are some important pieces to the team that make things work. Jessica Miller and Meghan Brown both lead the attack up top. The senior and junior also lead the team in goals with 23 and 22 respectively. But you also have to give credit to Megan Nichols, a junior keeper who has only allowed two goals to get past her all season.

Miller admits that it is probably a little easier to coach a team like this. There is someone different each game that steps up to make a big play or two. The team is not looking to just one or two players to carry the team. "It's a team effort," she says.

A team effort will be needed in this weekend's three games (@Clinton 7pm Friday, @Ridgeland 10am Saturday, @Madison Central 2pm Saturday). But the girls are traveling to Jackson with fire in their eyes, looking to return home Saturday night with three more victories. And they will remember the road they took. And hope to travel it again in February for a shot at another title.

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