Crista Martin didn’t know what to expect when her soccer team met for their first practice this fall. Almost half of her girls had never played soccer before. Martin and her Riverside Bulldogs would have to start with the basics. This is only the second year of the soccer program.
The progress wasn’t quick, and it wasn’t easy with the many canceled practices and games because of the pandemic making it even harder.
But, Martin and her girls slowly did get better, and they put an exclamation point on the season with a 2-1 victory over Coahoma County Thursday night in their last home game of the season.
“Tonight they played the best that they have all season,” Martin said. “I am really proud of how they spread out and worked as a team.”
In cool and damp conditions, the Lady Bulldogs trailed 1-0 at halftime when Riverside’s Sydney Sheppeard kicked in the tying goal in the first few minutes of the second half. Minutes later Kelsie Goodwin scored the game winner.
“This win means so much to me because this is my family now. Last year was my first year of soccer, but thanks to Coach Martin and Coach King I feel like I reallt improved” Goodwin said.
Thursday’s victory was also thanks, in a large part, to the fine defensive play of Riverside’s Crislyn Lance and the fine goal keeping of Anna Foster.
Coach Martin, 23, is a first-year eighth grade English teacher at Riverside. Martin went to high school at Washington School and graduated college at Mississippi State.
“I played soccer for Washington School for two years, and I am in love with the sport. I love how it is an athlete-centered sports,” Martin said.