After Tsetsenkhaan “Chingun” Tsogt-Erdene scored his first goal for the Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science in Thursday’s 3-0 win over Columbus High School, his celebration consisted of a single word.
“Applesauce!” Tsogt-Erdene yelled as he leapt for joy with teammates near the Falcons’ goal.
Allow the junior to explain. A few days ago, Tsogt-Erdene didn’t feel his best before a cross country meet. So he ate applesauce, felt better and set a personal record in the race.
Before Thursday’s match, he ate applesauce again. A few hours later, he sent a strike past Columbus keeper Anthony Marquez to extend the Blue Waves’ lead to 2-0 in the first half.
“We controlled the game with that goal,” MSMS coach Armando Leyva said.
The Blue Waves added another tally from Carter Miller in the 68th minute, but it was just insurance as they finished off the Falcons in Thursday’s season opener.
“I think it was just a really good way to start a season,” Leyva said.
Tsogt-Erdene agreed. The junior — in his first year at MSMS and second year in Mississippi after previously living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Ulaanbataar, Mongolia — said his goal Thursday and recent success have certainly spawned a new habit.
“I’m going to eat applesauce before each game now,” he said.
The good mood shared by Tsogt-Erdene and his teammates — who, after the match, discussed trying the snack for themselves — was what Leyva was hoping to see in his first time coaching the team. He took over from Tim Wood this season and had challenges presented by a short preseason and a limited number of practices. Leyva said Thursday’s match was only the second time the Blue Waves were all present on the field.
“I think they did pretty good for the time that we had together,” Leyva said.
Despite his team’s loss, Columbus coach Joseph Richardson felt the same about his Falcons, a young team starting four eighth graders. One of those was Marquez, who was beaten twice by long shots by Nicholas Djedjos and Tsogt-Erdene and was the victim of players getting “bunched up” on Miller’s goal.
“I thought he played really well, and he’s got a lot of promise,” Richardson said of Marquez.
Columbus couldn’t challenge MSMS goalkeeper Nathan Lechner much in the first half, but a couple near-misses in the second half should help the Falcons bring a little momentum into Saturday’s match against Cleveland Central, Richardson said.
“I think it kind of boosted their confidence up,” he said. “… Hopefully we can put it a little more together and pull out a W.”
MSMS girls 7, Columbus 0
As it has been for the MSMS boys squad, achieving cooperation and harmony this early on has been difficult for the Blue Waves girls.
“Team chemistry’s always a challenge for us because it’s the first time they’ve ever stepped on the field together, and we’ve had exactly six practices,” coach Chuck Yarborough said.
In a good sign for Yarborough’s team, the Blue Waves had more goals Thursday than they’ve even had practices this season. They put up five goals in the first half en route to a 7-0 shutout of Columbus on Thursday.
“I felt like we did really well,” Yarborough said. “The girls are learning how to play together.”
Junior Madison Johnson, who brought 10 years of experience playing for Laurel Christian School, had a hat trick in the first half alone, scoring the Blue Waves’ first three goals within the first 22 minutes. Her first tally, barely over a minute into the match, helped calm the nerves associated with playing her first match for MSMS,
“At first it was hard, but I think we all developed a relationship, and we had to work together,” Johnson said. “It was fun.”
Lauren Rutherford scored twice for the Blue Waves, Destiny Van added a goal, and MSMS took advantage of an own goal by the Falcons. Ashley Mangus had two assists for the Blue Waves.
Yarborough said he was glad to see communication among his players in the match given their relative inexperience. Of the 17 players who dressed out, nine were first-time soccer players.
It was hard to tell Thursday, though.
“The midfielders did wonderfully directing traffic, and my backs did a good job communicating with one another as well — covering the empty spots and the open areas,” Yarborough said.
The Blue Waves hope to continue building toward their district slate in January with a tough slate coming up soon. They’ll play Vardaman, Nettleton and Winona next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, respectively. All three games will be at the downtown soccer complex.
“We’ve got a busy week and a half ahead of us,” Yarborough said. “It’ll be fun, though.”
Prep Girls Basketball
Winona Christian 52, Heritage Academy 31
Aberdeen 63, Caledonia 43
Prep Boys Basketball
Aberdeen 54, Caledonia 51
Starkville 77, Meridian 40
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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