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Park Place Christian Academy beats Starkville Academy for Division III title


Starkville Academy’s JonHayden Adcock chases down a loose ball against Park Place Christian Academy on Monday.

Starkville Academy’s JonHayden Adcock chases down a loose ball against Park Place Christian Academy on Monday. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff


Adam Minichino



STARKVILLE -- Sybil Roberson is used to attracting attention. 


Roberson's speed and technical ability usually mean she sees multiple defenders trying to mark her or slow her down when she is attacking the goal. 


The Starkville Academy girls soccer team learned Monday defending Roberson is quite a challenge. 


Roberson scored three goals, while Reagan Savell had two assists to lead the Park Place Christian Academy girls soccer team to a 3-1 victory in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Division III State title game at the Starkville Sportsplex. 


The win helped Park Place Christian, which is in Pearl, finish the season 13-0-1 and capture the school's first state championship. A tie against East Rankin Academy was the only "blemish" on the team's record. 


Roberson said she didn't know how many goals she scored prior to Monday's match against the reigning Division III champions, but she said she has had "a couple" hat tricks, or three-goal matches. 


Roberson's first goal on a breakaway in the eighth minute off a pass from Bailey Steen proved to be the biggest because Milla Davis scored in the second minute off a diagonal pass from Kaitlyn Bock to give the home team all of the momentum. 


"We kept our composure and we did what we had to do and we got back up there," said Roberson, who plays Select Soccer with IFC in Brandon. 


Roberson beat the defense to a lead pass from Savell to score what proved to be the game-winner in the 52nd minute. The chance came after Davis had Starkville Academy's best chance of the half on a header off a corner kick from Mary Margaret McReynolds. 


"It helps when they pull three people because it takes one of the defenders off me," Roberson said. 


Roberson completed the scoring in the 63rd minute when she won a 50-50 ball and pressed forward to beat goalkeeper Meri Laci Archer. 


"I think Starkville really set out this time to play against our outside and our midfield was just a little stronger," Park Place Christian coach Larry Savell said. 


Park Place Christian used its speed and play in the midfield to dictate the tempo. It also pushed up its backline after Starkville Academy's goal and limited the chances of junior Amber Bock to get involved. The speed of defenders Ariel and Alexis Knott on the flanks also limited the Lady Volunteers' ability to get deep into the attacking third. 


"The first five minutes you would have thought this game is going to be awesome and it is going our way," Starkville Academy coach JoJo Dodd said. "They scored the equalizer and we kind of got deflated a bit." 


Dodd credited the hustle and speed of Park Place Christian. He said the Lady Volunteers (13-3) tried to use their speed in the midfield to try to contain Roberson and Savell, but he said the Lady Crusaders made that difficult. He said Park Place Christian's defense was equally challenging because it eliminated his team's through balls and chance to get into open space. 


"They tested our defense the whole time and tired them out in ways other teams haven't," Dodd said. "That was the fastest team we have played all season, and probably the best group we have played all season." 


The match marked the end of the prep soccer careers of Karlee McNeel, McReynolds, and Davis.  


Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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