Eagles defense prevails: Oak Mountain curbs state tournament foes

Oak Mountain&8217;s defense was almost flawless on its way to the Class 6A boys&8217; soccer state title this post season, allowing only one goal &045; a penalty kick by Bob Jones in the second round.

&8220;Defense wins, and it showed,&8221; first-year Oak Mountain Eagles&8217; head coach Justin Pratt said.

The Eagles defense came mostly in the midfield of Saturday&8217;s 1-0 championship victory over Vestavia Hills in Huntsville, as sophomore Chandler Hoffman helped create chances and kept the ball on the Eagles&8217; offensive side of the field.

&8220;It was a hot day, so it was really tough to just be really buzzing all the time,&8221; Pratt said. &8220;I felt like we were in a little bit of a lull at times. The game wasn&8217;t real intense and fast, but we had lots of good chances.&8221;

One such chance came in the 24th minute, when Hoffman forced Vestavia Hills&8217; keeper Kyle Tucker Davis into the corner, winning the ball away and shooting toward an empty net.

However, just before the ball got to the net, Rebels&8217; defender Riggs Burnette slid in to head it away.

Hoffman, who scored a hat trick in Friday&8217;s 4-0 win over Prattville, had other opportunities to score just miss, hitting the cross bar or just sailing high.

However as time ticked away and the Eagles stared overtime in the eye, Hoffman found hope along the back post.

Streaking through the Vestavia defense was junior Mia Jones, who found Hoffman&8217;s pass and scored in the 68th minute.

&8220;I&8217;d been coming close all day with shots off the crossbar, and I just knew that we were going to find one at some point,&8221; said Hoffman, named the Class 6A MVP.

Jones, who assisted Hoffman&8217;s third goal Friday, was just being the work horse that he is according to Pratt.

&8220;(Mia) may have off games now and again, but he&8217;s going to give you everything he&8217;s got, just like the last play, he was just sprinting his tail off all the way from the halfway line to the back post just in case that ball did get served to the back. He just has that attitude and that mentality,&8221; Pratt said.

The title is Oak Mountain&8217;s second in boys&8217; soccer, after winning it all in 2005.

&8220;The team two years ago had incredible talent. We came out and followed in their footsteps,&8221; Hoffman said. &8220;I&8217;m hoping to win two more.&8221;