Feb. 20—Lamar had momentum following a 3-1 win at Starkville Academy Feb. 9 that secured the Raiders a first-place finish in MAIS Division II East.
They were set to host Washington School this past Monday in the MAIS Division II soccer playoffs, but inclement weather statewide throughout the week forced the MAIS to delay its postseason games a week later. Lamar will now play Washington at 5 p.m. Monday at home.
"At the start of the season I made the boys aware there would be times we wouldn't get to play for a week, and they knew that coming into this season," Lamar boys soccer coach Cesar Diaz said. "We're all pretty much aware it can happen any time."
He was referencing the COVID-19 pandemic, however, not snow, icy roads and power outages, which hit Meridian twice this week. It's the same effect, however: Lamar will not have played in 13 days when it begins the playoffs Monday, and Diaz said he's spent that time watching film of Washington and stressing to his players the importance of doing something soccer related during the break.
"It's very difficult," Diaz admitted. "You're trying to keep them in shape, but it's out of your hands. You just try to keep in touch with them and tell them what's going on and keep them active as much as you can."
Senior Miller Hodge said because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the constant shuffling of athletic schedules since the school year began, he isn't too worried about the effects of the long layoff when the Raiders return to action Monday.
"This has happened a lot this year with football and now soccer," Hodge said. "Honestly, I've kind of gotten used to being able to deal with long breaks. I think we'll be just fine."
The team will practice over the weekend ahead of Monday's game, and Diaz said he hopes the momentum gained by winning their district will carry over into the postseason.
"I feel great," Diaz said. "The boys are coming off beating Starkville and winning district, and that was one of our goals, so it was huge for us. Getting to play at home Monday will be huge, too, because we'll have fans on our side supporting us, so that will be great."
Washington is the first step toward the goal of winning a state championship, and Hodge said if he and his teammates can jell again after nearly two weeks in between games, the Raiders will be difficult to beat.
"We have to come together as a team," Hodge said. "Coach Cesar will give us a good game plan, and we're capable of beating any team in our division. As long as we come together, we can make a run at it."