New Hope High School senior Maddie Beard poses for a picture with her mother, Traci, and her father, John, and New Hope High girls soccer coaches Mary Nagy, far left, and Will Taylor on Friday morning during a signing ceremony to celebrate her decision to play soccer at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit. Photo by: Adam Minichino/Dispatch Staff
January 14, 2018 12:16:09 AM
It didn't take long for Maddie Beard and Chrisi Godfrey to make an impression.
Following the New Hope High School girls soccer team's match against Corinth on Dec. 9, Beard and Godfrey met Southwest Mississippi Community College women's soccer coach Betty Casey. It didn't mater that New Hope lost 3-2. Casey wanted them to come to Summit to tour the campus. She also hoped she could convince both players to join her program.
Southwest Mississippi C.C. already was out for Christmas break, so Casey led Beard and Godfrey on a tour that left the New Hope High seniors impressed.
"The campus was really nice. The facilities were really nice, and I liked the fact she had some of the players text us before we were even out of Summit," Godfrey said. "Being three-and-a-half hours away from home is going to be hard, but having a close team and eventually becoming sisters will make it super easy."
On Friday morning, Beard and Godfrey finalized their decisions to attend Southwest Mississippi C.C. in a signing ceremony in the New Hope High library. Both players signed their National Letters of Intent on Jan. 3.
New Hope High coach Mary Nagy said Beard and Godfrey and bring so much to the team on and off the field. She said the team captains are mentors to the younger players. That is key because Nagy said the players vote on the team captains, which is a sign the seniors have earned the trust and respect of their teammates.
"They're so different in the way they lead," Nagy said. "Where Maddie is very quiet and will lead more by her actions on and off the field, Chrisi leads vocally on the field, so it meshes pretty well."
Beard and Godfrey were eighth-graders in the 2013-14 season when New Hope lost to West Jones in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State title game. As freshmen, Beard and Godfrey also played key roles in a season that ended with a loss to Germantown in the Class 5A North State title game.
Godfrey said she never had been to Summit. She said she didn't want to pass up an opportunity to play soccer in college, especially after such a great visit that capped a whirlwind recruiting process.
"She definitely got us there quickly and made us feel at home," Godfrey said.
Like Beard and Godfrey, Nagy said she was impressed with Southwest Mississippi C.C. She feels the midfielders will fit in well with Casey's program.
Godfrey tore the anterior cruciate ligament and had surgery May 18. She also tore ligaments in her right ankle earlier in her career, but she batted back after tearing her ACL and was back playing soccer again in September. She said she was "pushing it" to get back to the field by going to rehab three times for two hours.
"It just speaks to her work ethic and wanting to be involved in a game she loves so dearly," Nagy said. "She had to work hard to put herself on the field after that injury. Once she got out of that cast and was into that boot and was rehabbing, she didn't miss rehab. She was determined to have her senior season."
Nagy saw Beard make a huge contribution in the team that advanced to the state title, especially in a come-from-behind 5-4 victory against Vicksburg in the opening round. She said Beard has blossomed and transitioned from an outside midfielder to a central midfielder. Nagy said Beard usually has played more of a defensive midfielder, while Godfrey has been more of the attacking personality. Recently, though, she said the Lady Trojans have used Beard in more of an attacking role. They even have used Godfrey at forward, including this year.
"It all happened so fast," Beard said of the recruiting process. "I really wasn't expecting it, but I am really glad it happened.
"It was kind of unreal. I was so thankful because I wasn't expecting to go so far away, but it all worked out good."
Beard, who also said she had never been to Summit, said she "felt at peace" about her decision to play soccer at Southwest Mississippi C.C. She said she and Godfrey have played soccer together since they were 4 years old, so it just feels right that they will be able to continue their careers in college.
"We're always around each other," Beard said. "I remember the practices every week at Joe Cook. Just seeing the different positions we have played, it is so funny how things have changed. ... I am super excited to see us together in the future."
Nagy said Casey envisions Beard and Godfrey playing in the midfield at the next level.
"Chrisi has that vision," Nagy said. "She puts the ball on the ground and is able to deliver the ball to the feet of her teammates. We count on her to deliver and distribute for us.
"Maddie stays very calm. She doesn't panic. You want the ball at her foot because it is so steady. She is probably one of the better skilled girls we have on the team.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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