RAYMOND --- The Holmes Community College Lady Bulldogs made history today by becoming the first Holmes soccer program, either male or female, to bring home a MACJC Championship. The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Itawamba Lady Indians, 3-1, at Hinds Community College.
With the win, the Lady Bulldogs improved to 17-2 overall. Holmes will travel to Eunice, La. for Friday's Region XXIII Championship at 4 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs have been so close to a title the last three seasons after claiming the North Division title the last four seasons. In 2016, the Lady Bulldogs fell to Jones in the championship game and also fell to Jones in 2017 in the championship game. Holmes then suffered a heartbreaker last season by falling on penalty kicks to Gulf Coast in the semifinals.
"It's just amazing," Associate Head Coach Wesley Noble said. "It's been a long time coming. The past four years we've been so close, and these girls finally put it over the hump. I told them when we had our first team meeting they had all the potential to do it. They just had to buy-in and work every single day. I couldn't be more proud of them."
"I'm exceptionally proud of the players and the coaching staff," Head Coach Matt Convertino said. "Wesley has done a fantastic job of bringing in great talent and also keeping them motivated to play and preparing them every day technically and tactically and having them focused."
Itawamba scored in the 34th minute to pull the Lady Indians to within one goal at 2-1.
Just minutes into the second half, the Lady Bulldogs got their final goal of the day when sophomore defender Caseigh Hickman scored from just outside the box on a free kick in the 48th minute of play.
Even though the Lady Indians kept the NJCAA's leading goal scorer Cariel Ellis off the scoreboard, Ellis proved to be an integral part in today's success.
"She gets so much focus just because of how talented she is," Noble said. "She's one of the best players to have ever played in this league. She cares more about the team than herself. She was great distributing the ball and creating things for the other players. It's great for the other girls to step up. We knew it would be that way, and I'm proud of them for doing it."
"Cariel brings a lot to the table," Convertino said. "She scores goals and has assists, but she also wins tackles and puts pressure on defenders and helps create goals. Girls have been stepping up throughout the year. We have a great team, and it was really a group win tonight."
Noble said with the region match lingering, the Lady Bulldogs have little time to enjoy this victory.
"We are going to definitely enjoy this one tonight and then tomorrow we'll start regenerating and getting the body back how it needs it to be and look for a quick turnaround against a good LSUE team," he said. "They already beat us 2-0 and we are excited for the challenge, and we'll see what happens."