Titus, Francis lead Chelsea to crucial win against No. 1 Homewood

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – Mackenzie Titus entered the 2021 soccer season as one of the top goalkeepers in the state, and on Friday, April 2, the senior showed why in her biggest performance of the season.

Titus and the Chelsea Hornets were looking to overcome a 1-2 start to area play this season after a 2-0 loss to the Homewood Patriots and a 2-1 loss to Briarwood Lions.

But taking on No. 1 Homewood for the second time, meant they would need their best performance of the season to avoid a 1-3 hole that would have given them slim chances of making the postseason.

The Patriots entered the matchup with just one loss this season—a 2-1 game against Class 7A No. 1 Huntsville in the first game of the season. Since then, Homewood had reeled off 11 games in a row, scoring a combined 45 goals and giving up two goals in that span.

The Hornets, however, knew what was on the line and coming off a 4-1 area win against No. 7 Mountain Brook before spring break and a 10-0 win against Shades Valley after spring break, they had started to gain some confidence.

And it started with Titus.

After giving two goals on six shots against Homewood in the first matchup between the two, she knew what she needed to do in order for the Hornets to come away victorious.

This time around, despite Homewood threatening on a few occasions, Titus stepped up and put together a clean sheet. Homewood’s chances came and went with Titus making great saves and directing the defense from her perspective.

Her effort combined with one of the defense’s best games of the year helped the Hornets put together a shutout performance.

All they need was one goal, which they couldn’t come up with in the first game between the two top 10 teams, but Titus and the defense got that one-goal cushion early on to help with their confidence.

The goal came in a jaw-dropping moment when Jillian Francis nailed a shot from just inside the midfield line on a bomb that players stood and watched because it looked like it might go long from so far out.

Francis’ shot, however, fell right into the goal and put Chelsea on top 1-0, which ended up being the difference in a 1-0 victory.

With the win, Chelsea improved to 8-4-1 on the season and 2-2 in area play. It puts the Hornets in a position of controlling their own destiny with area matchups left against Briarwood and Mountain Brook.

The Lions currently sit at 2-2 in area play as well with the two scheduled to play each other on April 9 in what could determine a playoff spot.