Westminster heads to state soccer championship game

By DREW GRANTHUM/For the Reporter

If there were any questions about Westminster-Oak Mountain’s ability to compete on a big stage before the boys’ state soccer semifinals, the Knights all but held a press conference to address them.

Westminster, one of the smallest schools in AHSAA competition at an average enrollment of 56.7 students (per AHSAA website), knocked off perennial powerhouse UMS-Wright, 2-0, to advance to the 4A-1A State Championship game.

The Knights came out aggressive early, going after the ball at every opportunity. It paid off, as Michael Stanford scored on a Drew Parker assist to make it 1-0 just seven minutes into the match.

Parker followed his assist up with a goal of his own, dribbling through several Bulldog defenders on his way to an unassisted score.

From there, the Knights played strong defense, allowing only six shots the entire game, and only one on goal. The Bulldogs seemingly had no answer for Westminster, struggling in the wet conditions that saw it rain intermittently throughout the game.

“It does a lot for our program,” said Westminster coach Patrick Fitzgerald. “It’s certainly a high, but we’ve got to find that spirit for tomorrow. The kids played with heart; they battled. This year we changed our style of play to fit tournament play. The players bought into it, and executed it very well. The size of their heart is certainly larger than the size of our school.”