Jags defend turf against Eagles

Spain Park High School sophomore Gillian Garver blocks a shot on goal by Oak Mountain sophomore Toni Payne in the Jaguars' 1-0 win in an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Section 5 match April 8. (Reporter Photo/Wesley Hallman)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

HOOVER — Members of the Spain Park High School girls’ soccer team have the two Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Section 5 matches with Oak Mountain circled each season.

Vice versa for the Eagles.

The rivalry between the two schools has blossomed on the soccer with field with the Eagles and the Jaguars routinely battling each other for a section championship and a trip to the AHSAA Class 6A state tournament.

The April 8 meeting was no different, with the Jaguars defending their home turf in a 1-0 win over their rivals from Oak Mountain. The victory put Spain Park (16-3-1 overall, 7-1 in Class 6A, Section 5) in sole possession of first place in Class 6A, Section 5. The win also gave the Jaguars a sweep of the Eagles in two Class 6A, Section 5 matches. Oak Mountain did pick up one win over Spain Park this season in the Lakeshore Shootout.

“We’ve got too much history and we’re too close,” said Spain Park coach Robert Starr. “It’s a fun rivalry. These are the games they’ll always remember.”

The game Friday night at the Spain Park soccer complex will be known for the defensive battle in the final 40 minutes.

Spain Park sophomore forward Simone Charley netted a goal, which was assisted by Annalika Steyn, in the opening half to account for the only offense in the section match.

The second half turned into a defensive struggle featuring physical play on both sides. The half featured diving saves by both goalkeepers — Jill Hester of Oak Mountain and Schyler Arnold of Spain Park — and missed opportunities on corner kicks. Hester finished with six saves. Arnold posted five saves in the shutout.

The Eagles (12-3 overall, 5-2 in Class 6A, Section 5) had plenty of chances to score an equalizer, but the final opportunity came and went when the Spain Park back line cleared away a corner kick with one minute remaining in the contest.

BOYS

The Oak Mountain High School boys’ soccer team defeated Spain Park 1-0 in double overtime in an AHSAA Class 6A, Section 5 match April 8.

Rian Imwalle scored the game-winning goal for the Eagles (12-3 overall, 5-3 in Class 6A, Section 5) in the second overtime following a scoreless tie in regulation and the first overtime period.