Oak Mountain wins soccer slugfest over Hoover

Oak Mountain's Keegan McQueen reacts to a loose ball in a 2-1 win over Hoover April 3. (Contributed/Len Louis)

Oak Mountain’s Keegan McQueen reacts to a loose ball in a 2-1 win over Hoover April 3. (Contributed/Len Louis)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

NORTH SHELBY— If there was ever any doubt about soccer being a contact sport, one needed to look no further than the April 3 Birmingham Metro Tourney semifinal matchup between No. 2-ranked Oak Mountain and No. 3 Hoover High in boys soccer as proof.

The contest was grueling to say the least, with both teams battling over every ball with contact and yellow cards abound. In the end, however, the Eagles won a thriller in penalty kicks, 2-1.

Hoover set the tone early with physical play, attempting to knock the Eagles off the ball and attack the Oak Mountain zone. Despite the force exerted by the Bucs, Keegan McQueen nearly got the Eagles on the board first as a header attempt on goal missed at the 36:42 mark.

Brad Louis kept the scoreless tie going with a big save with 35:17 left in the first, and repeated the feat at 20:45 and 5:12. On offense, Mark Green came up short as a shot went wide left at 29:50.

The two teams’ defenses took control of the game, and the squads went into the half with a 0-0 tie.

The Bucs came out of the half attacking the Oak Mountain zone, capitalizing at the 34:25 mark with a goal to go up 1-0.

The Eagles answered less than ten minutes later when Green scored on a free kick to tie the game 1-1 apiece.

Things got chippy as the game progressed, with Green going down after contact at 5:51. He was taken to the sidelines, but later returned to the game.

Louis made the save of the game with 16 seconds left, getting his fingertips on a ball over his head enough to lift the shot over the goal to preserve the tie. Neither team could muster another goal in regulation, nor in two sudden-death overtime periods, leading to a penalty kick shootout.

In the shootout, McQueen, Tyler Luckett, Patrick Carroll, Mark Green and Trigg Langner took the shots for the Eagles, netting each. The Bucs could only make three, and the Eagles took the win.

Head Coach Dan DeMasters said he was proud of his team’s effort in moving past a tough opponent and into the tournament finals.

“Hoover’s a fantastic team,” he said. “They’re hard-nosed. It’s great to play against a great team like that. We’ve been working hard this past week, we’re excited.”