Lafayette girls begin state title defense with first-round matchup against Cleveland Central

Published 2:51 pm Monday, January 24, 2022

The Lafayette girls soccer team prepares to defend their 5A state title Monday as they take on Cleveland Central in the first round of the playoffs.

The Commodores (15-3, 4-0 Region 1) went undefeated in region play this season en route to the top record in the north half. They have won six of their past seven games and enter their first-round matchup on a three-game winning streak.

A perennial powerhouse, head coach Melinda Scruggs’s squad has won three straight 5A-state titles. During that stretch they have defeated playoff opponents by more than three goals per contest.

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Lafayette is scoring over four times per game this year, netting five or more goals nine times in the regular season. They give up just over one goal per game, stifling opposing attacks with a back line that swarms to the ball with relentless ferocity.

Cleveland Central (11-6-1, 4-2 Region 3) finished second in their region this season despite posting a better overall record than top-seeded Vicksburg. The Wolves won five in a row to close the season, including three straight regional games that helped them secure a playoff spot over rival Greenville. They did not allow a single goal during their win streak, outscoring opponents by an average of five goals per game.

The former regional rivals have not met since making the jump to 5A in 2017. Lafayette won by 10 or more goals in five of their past six meetings against Cleveland as regional opponents, including a 10-0 victory in their last matchup in January 2017.

The Commodores kick off against the Wolves at 6 p.m. as they begin their quest for a fourth consecutive state title.