Spain Park girls get physical in win over Hoover

Spain Park High School girls’ soccer coach Robert Starr didn’t need a motivational speech for his players Tuesday night.

The Jaguars played with an edge throughout a tight Class 6A, Section 5 match April 13 with rival Hoover.

The intensity increased between the two rivals with the final minutes melting off the clock. In the end, a powerful shot off the foot of Spain Park junior Annalika Steyn gave the defending Class 6A champion Jaguars a 2-1 victory over the Bucs.

Spain Park can clinch the Class 6A, Section 5 championship and a playoff spot with a win against Vestavia Hills in its final section contest April 20.

Starr didn’t have to remind his players how important a win over Hoover was to their playoff hopes. The Jaguars recorded two one-goal wins and a scoreless tie against their rivals during the 2010 season.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Starr said. “You’ve got your constant reminders.”

Freshman Simone Charley gave the Jaguars (17-3-2, 8-1 in Class 6A, Section 5) an early 1-0 lead after she fired a shot past Hoover goalkeeper Sarah Story with 15:31 left in the opening half.

Hoover tied the contest with a rebound goal following a save by Spain Park goalkeeper Lauren Arnold with 2:14 remaining in the contest.

The Jaguars went on the offensive in the final two minutes. Steyn seemed to have a one-on-one opportunity against Story before she was pushed to the ground by a Hoover player and a foul was called on the Bucs.

The foul gave Steyn a free kick from 15 yards out directly in front of the Hoover goal with 38 seconds left on the clock. Steyn pocketed the goal to seal the win for the Jaguars.

Arnold recorded four saves for the Jaguars.

Starr said he was proud of how his Jaguars continued battling after the Bucs rallied to tie the game.

“We certainly didn’t want to let it go to penalty kicks and leave it to chance,” Starr said. “Annalika is really good at penalty kicks. Fortunately we were able to put it away.”