North Shelby teams advance in AHSAA boys soccer playoffs

Sylacauga and Northridge appeared to have the same defensive strategy for when they traveled to Briarwood Christian and Oak Mountain, respectively, on Tuesday. Both Sylacauga and Northridge packed its players on one side of the field hoping to avoid allowing goals. They did so effectively until the final minutes of each game’s first half.

Sylacauga held Briarwood at bay in the 5A sub-state game until senior Jacob Steeley came off the bench to score from a Cenyo Amedo assist with 13 minutes to play in the opening period. In the second half, Amedo struck quickly with an assist from Sean Tilford to give the Lions a 2-0 lead in the 41st minute of play. Andrew Whitaker later rounded out the scoring with the help of Robert Irwin.

“We packed the goal the first 15 minutes of the game and couldn’t get anything to go in. I started to wonder if we were going to get anything tonight,” Lions’ head coach Mark Wallace said. “I knew we needed a senior to step up for us, and they really have in situations like this.”

Briarwood (16-5-2), ranked second in Class 5A, travels to St. Paul’s Episcopal on Saturday.

Oak Mountain also overcame a clustered defense to defeat Northridge 5-0. Chandler Hoffman took an assist from Chris Markey and chipped a goal past the keeper with 23.8 seconds remaining in the first period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

“It’s hard (to pack the box on defense) for 80 minutes, so eventually we found some seams and got behind them to score some goals,” Oak Mountain head coach Justin Pratt said.

Stefan Varizi struck quickly for the Eagles, scoring an unassisted goal just 17 seconds into the second period to take a 2-0 lead. Andres Aristizabal, Mason Lavallett and Wesley Saenz each added goals in the final 25 minutes to round out the scoring. Assists came from Hoffman, Duncan Harmon and Jason Pierce. David Esser did not face a shot on goal in the net for the Eagles.

Oak Mountian (17-4-2), ranked second in Class 6A, travels to fourth-ranked Bob Jones for a match Friday night.

In Class 3A-1A, second-ranked Indian Springs (16-5-2) defeated Holy Spirit 1-0 and hosts No. 14 Houston Academy this weekend