Pillow Academy’s Elise Howard, right, battles a Madison-Ridgeland Academy player for control of the ball during Monday’s match at PA. The Lady Mustangs lost 4-1 in their season opener.

Pillow Academy opened up defense of its girls soccer state title with a 4-1 loss to a powerful Madison-Ridgeland Academy team Monday at PA’s Chazzy Moor Field.

Pillow coach Amy Coleman was pleased with some aspects of the first game and noted that last year’s state squad opened with a 3-0 loss and was able to rebound.

“I thought we showed some great flashes of our potential,” Coleman said. “We played an awesome first half of soccer and fell flat the second half when fatigue took over.

“We had two technical mistakes that unfortunately resulted in two of their goals. Those are mistakes that we typically don’t make.”

Pillow fell behind 1-0 in the first half and 2-0 early in the second. The Lady Mustangs closed the gap to 2-1 off a beautiful move to the inside and cross by sophomore Georgia Caroline Self.

Sophomore forward Sarah Presley Howard one-timed the pass out of the air to reinvigorate the Lady Mustangs.

But the heat took its toll on the Pillow squad as wave after wave of MRA attack exhausted the besieged defense. MRA scored two late goals to put the game away.

Sophomore goalie Madeline Mattox stopped 9 of 13 shots in a strong first-game performance

She was aided by the strong defensive effort of Julia Love Lyon, Madeline Kelly, Mia Cole and Kaylee Harden.

MRA outcorner kicked Pillow Academy 7-1.

The junior varsity Lady Mustangs lost 4-3 to MRA. Scoring goals for Pillow were Campbell Williams, Alanna Hodo and Tavio Layne.

The Lady Mustangs return to action Thursday in Senatobia against Magnolia Heights.

The match is set for 4 p.m.

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