HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Oak Grove girls soccer enters the playoffs as the 25th-ranked team in the nation, according to Max Preps.
It has certainly taken a team effort for the Lady Warriors to go 17-1-2 but one of the catalysts has been senior Lonnie Mulligan. The team captain leads Oak Grove with 37 goals.
"Lonnie is a prolific goal scorer, she scores a lot of goals," said Oak Grove girls soccer coach Clay Smith. "When she gets in front of the goal and takes a shot, a lot of times it's on frame. That's a special art to be able to do that. [We] definitely knew something special by the time she got to be a senior. I know she was going to be a very successful player. She's a hard worker, loves to play soccer."
Mulligan's love for the game is evident in her hard work – which has helped her earn a soccer scholarship to Ole Miss.
"It's been a dream literally since I was five years old when I started playing," Mulligan said. "I'm just glad that all my hard work has paid off and that I'm able to be a leader on the field and show these girls that if you work hard, you can do it. We have so much talent here and I'm excited to show them that they can do it too."
The Lady Warriors are talented but they know that talent alone won't allow them to reach their ultimate goal – winning the school's fourth state championship.
Oak Grove's last state title came in 2006. After winning two region championships in a row, the Lady Warriors feel like 2018 is as good a year as any to capture another gold ball.
"That's always a motivating factor," said Smith, who's in his 26th season as the head coach of Oak Grove. "They don't really concentrate too much on what's been happening before. They want to worry about now, the here and now. Can they try and get this program over that hump and get to that next game."
"We're definitely going to give it 100 [percent] but I feel like this year we're just making sure we're the best on that day," Mulligan said. "As long as we just go out there and give it our all, I think that we're going to be able to do it this year."