Photo: From left, Krossley Jones, coach Russ Prince, and Tabitha McMackin of the Olive Branch girls’ soccer team. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
Olive Branch soccer is becoming more respected in high school circles all the time, especially on the girls side as the Lady Quistors have posted a winning record and are a solid second to once-beaten Saltillo in the Region 1-6A standings.
When looking at the reasons behind this year’s Olive Branch girls’ soccer success, two names pop out immediately: junior Krossley Jones and senior captain Tabitha McMackin.
Both have been averaging over a goal a game for the 11-10 Lady Quistors (7-2 in Region 1-6A) games. Of 67 goals scored this year, Jones and McMackin have netted 41 of them.
“They’re basically the lifeblood of the team,” said Olive Branch coach Russ Prince. “It goes through them. When they’re up, the rest of the team is up. If they’re down, the rest of the team is down, but they’re very good at staying motivated.”
The skills they have developed playing for Olive Branch and in club soccer are being noticed. Jones plays club soccer with the Germantown Legends and Tupelo FC when not wearing the blue and gold of Olive Branch. McMackin plays with the Lobos soccer program and will look
forward to being a part of Northwest Mississippi Community College, a national junior college soccer power, next season.
More time on the field, or pitch in soccer terms, with club soccer has helped both develop their game, as McMackin explains.
“It was definitely a great opportunity and I wish I had done it sooner,” McMackin said. “I’m still thankful I started when I did because without it I wouldn’t have gotten recognized and I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities I have.”
Success this year has come with practice and confidence in each other, McMackin said. The team has developed a good chemistry and with growing confidence, the skill level grows, as well.
“You have to know who you’re playing with and your teammates and how they play and their strengths and weaknesses,” McMackin said. “Practice is really important. I could harp on that for a long time. It doesn’t just come overnight. It’s stuff you have to work at and work at.”
Jones added the underclassmen are really stepping up this season.
“They’ve blossomed and grown a lot since the beginning of the year,” Jones said. “Our record has given us a lot of confidence and we’re able to keep that confidence going.”
Prince noted the team’s record is showing his players that they can have success in the program.
“I think it’s good for the kids to see that you don’t have to move to other places,” he said. “You don’t have to go to a private school, you can be great where you are at, but it takes the buy-in, and I think the difference this year was that I got them to buy into the program. They feel they can compete with anyone.”
McMackin’s skills and leadership now has her headed to play at Northwest next fall.
“This has been a highlight season for me,” McMackin said. “I got a lot of confidence when I committed to Northwest because I didn’t think that was really in the cards for me, so it really helped my confidence. I was definitely surprised when they reached out to me.”
“Tabitha has worked extremely hard and she is the hardest worker on the team,” Prince added. “She doesn’t put her head down, she’s always motivated.”
Jones and McMackin have shown the way to winning on the field for Olive Branch, meaning the Lady Quistors will be a factor when playoff time comes along.