The Stone High soccer team experienced both extreme highs and extreme lows over the past week.
The Tomcats saw their season come to an end Saturday when an experienced Pearl squad dominated for 80 minutes and took a 2-0 victory in the second round of the state 5-A playoffs.
The loss followed an exciting 1-0 sudden-death overtime victory over Picayune last Tuesday in the first round.
That game ended when Kolby Krohn scored off an assist from Michael Graham.
"That was a super win off a super effort," said coach Jim Risen. "We tried to play defense for 60-plus minutes of that game and we knew by doing that they would get tired and frustrated.
"They did and we were able to take advantage of that."
On Saturday, nothing seemed to work as Pearl frustrated Stone at nearly every turn.
An early goal forced the Tomcats to sag a little on defense in an attempt to put the brakes on Pearl's attacking offense.
"Every shot they took was incredibly strong and if you got out of their face for just a second, they'd turn and shoot the ball," Risen said. "We tried to bunch up because they were a very strong offensive team and we were trying to keep them out of scoring range."
Stone had a couple of chances to tie the game in the second half, but a foul wiped out one goal and an impressive defensive effort stopped another.
Kolby Krohn received the ball on the right wing and, when the Pearl goalkeeper came out to challenge him, he chipped the ball over the keeper's head from about four feet off the ground.
A Pearl defender barely made it to the goal mouth in time and headed the ball over the end line.
"Those guys started 10 seniors on that team and that experience showed," Risen said. "It was a good learning tool and I think it will serve us well in the long run."
Risen graduates five seniors - and just three starters - from a team which finished 15-3-3.
"We gained experience and we'll also have confidence when it's time to take the field next season," he said. "A lot of the guys on this season's team were 8th- and 9th-graders."
The coach spoke with pride of the effort put forth by his players and said he's eager to get to next season.
"These kids have nothing to hang their heads about; it was a superior effort on their part," he said.