Indian Springs, Oak Mountain girls fall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Special to the Reporter

In a game that was interrupted often by the referees’ whistle, Indian Springs fell to Altamont 2-1 in the Class 1A-4A girls soccer championship last Saturday.

The third-ranked Lady Knights avenged an earlier loss to Indian Springs in the final at John Hunt Field in Huntsville.

Indian Springs outshot the Knights 31-9 but were able to sneak only one shot past Altamont goalkeeper Clare Cannon.

Jennifer Whitley, the tournament’s MVP, got Springs on the scoreboard first when she scored with an assist from senior midfielder Bizza Theibert.

Indian Springs seemed to be in control much of the game but Altamont’s attackers were opportunistic, scoring the winning goal with 15 minutes left in the contest.

Forward Katherine Whitley was shown a yellow card and sent off the field for a hard tackle.

On the restart Altamont sent a long bouncing ball into the corner of the Indian Springs 18 yard box where it was redirected by Altamont’s Aja Hazelhoff, over the head of the Springs keeper.

From that point on Indian Springs turned up the offensive pressure but watched five shots on goal either stop at the goal line or careen wide off the posts.

With 3:15 left in the game Indian Springs eighth grader Megan Eskridge got a breakaway on the Altamont goal and was taken down hard in the box by Altamont sweeper Dana Ullrich, who was whistled for the foul.

The referee awarded an indirect kick just outside the six. The indirect kick by Jennifer Whitley floated toward the back post, was redirected by Eskridge then careened of the back post to be shot on goal at point-blank range by Katherine Whitley before it was finally saved by Cannon.

&uot;We didn’t shut Indian Springs down, but we were able to keep them off the board the last 62 minutes,&uot; said Altamont coach Sean Gibson. &uot;A lot of that was just good fortune. I don’t believe you could do that two games in a row.&uot;

Indian Springs earned a trip to the state title game by defeating East Limestone in the semifinals.

Senior Forward Katherine Whitley, last year’s state MVP, scored four goals to lead the then No. 1-ranked Indian Springs girls in the 7-0 win.

Indian Springs scored early and often while dominating play at midfield.

Indian Springs center-midfielders Theibert and Eskridge controlled the pace of the game throughout the 80-minute contest and kept the ball up front where Katherine Whitley knew exactly what to do with it.

Whitley scored at the 14:11 mark on an assist from her twin sister, Jennifer. She scored again at the 24:26 mark with an assist from Demi Lorant.

Jennifer Whitley added a goal in the second half as did Eskridge, Ansal Bansal and Rosaland Chaplin.

Oak Mountain High School

Oak Mountain, who advanced to the 6A championship game with a 26-0 record and a string of four straight seasons that ended in the final four, came up short for the fifth consecutive year with a 3-2 loss to Spain Park.

The defeat marked the Eagles’ second straight loss in the finals.

Oak Mountain had won the three previous meetings between the two schools by a combined score of 13-0.

The Eagles held a 2-0 lead at half time with goals by Anne McIntyre and Merritt Mathias and looked to be well on their way to a state championship trophy.

Not only had Spain Park been unable to score on the Eagles in the three previous meetings this year, but Oak Mountain had allowed only 8 goals all season long.

Freshman Addison Ragsdale scored twice in the second half for Spain Park and sophomore Kathleen Walsh scored the winning goal to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament and give the Jaguars their first-ever state championship.

Both teams advanced to the finals with dominating wins in semifinal play.

Oak Mountain defeated Auburn 5-0 with goals by Merritt Mathias, Erica West, Megan Jones and Ann McIntyre. Spain Park advanced by outscoring Enterprise 3-1 on two goals by Courtney Truett and one by Bailey Hartwell.

Briarwood Christian School

Briarwood Christian fell to Huntsville 2-0 in the Class 5A girls semifinals.

After a scoreless first half the Lady Lions were put away in the second half when Huntsville capitalized on two scoring opportunities.

The Briarwood loss marked the team’s second straight year to lose in the first round of final four play.

David Eskridge contributed to this report