Oak Mountain takes last-second playoff win over Chelsea
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer
NORTH SHELBY— While only a second round matchup in the AHSAA Class 6A girls soccer playoffs, the April 30 contest between Chelsea and Oak Mountain had all the intensity of a state championship game.
In an absolute thriller of a game, the Oak Mountain Eagles notched a goal in the last 30 seconds of regulation to take a 2-1 win.
The game clock at Oak Mountain was out of service due to being struck by lightning in the previous day’s storms, and while the bad weather had moved on by first kick, electricity still hung in the air as the two squads squared off for the right to advance to the next round.
It was the Eagles who struck first, applying offensive pressure early. While the Hornets responded by refusing to bend, Oak Mountain’s Sydney Jeter got the Eagles on the board early when she headed a ball past Chelsea keeper Hailey Joseph to put the home team up 1-0.
Joseph and the Chelsea defense then responded by shutting down and shutting out the Eagle offense for the rest of the half. When the two squads broke for intermission, Oak Mountain still held a 1-0 lead.
When the action resumed, both squads picked up where they left off. Chelsea proceeded to turn up the pressure offensively, missing out on a goal opportunity midway through the half on a corner kick and a shot over the goal.
Oak Mountain’s Juliana Jackson had an opportunity to add to the lead on a breakaway, but a save by Joseph kept the deficit at one.
Chelsea’s Olivia Bowman knotted the game up at 1-1 when she scored on an assist from Megan Young midway through the half.
Jackson again turned up the pressure, missing a shot by the narrowest of margins with a little over 11 minutes to go.
With less than two minutes left, Oak Mountain keeper Katie Denney scooped up a loose ball near the goal and a whistle was sounded. After some confusion, Oak Mountain gained possession, driving down the as time ticked off the clock.
With just seconds left to play, the Eagles’ Alexandra Dunn caught the Hornets out of position, putting a shot in to take the 2-1 lead.
Chelsea simply ran out of time in the effort to tie the game, falling 2-1.
Chelsea head coach Jonathan Hammett said while the loss was tough, he was proud of his team’s effort.
“I can’t complain. The girls played hard,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to Oak Mountain. They came out and did what they had to to win. Giving that up in the last 30 seconds of the game is tough. They had the players in place and they made the play when it counted.”
Oak Mountain head coach Pete Dakis said his team expected a tough challenge from Chelsea.
“We decided to do the things we know well,” he said. “It was a good game for us. It was a wake up call. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They are a well-coached team, they play hard, and they came out to play, simple as that.”
The Eagles move to 23-0-1, while the Hornets finish their season at 13-10.
Oak Mountain moves on to face Auburn May 3.