Oak Mountain beats Vestavia after 26 penalty kicks to advance to the Final Four
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – May 2 marked the fourth time this season the Lady Eagles of Oak Mountain faced the Lady Rebels of Vestavia Hills. The two schools have been ranked near the top of class 7A for the entire year, and ended the regular season ranked first and second respectively. Oak Mountain finished the regular season with a 20-3-1 record, with two of the three losses and the tie all coming against Vestavia. The fourth game was the only one that truly mattered however, as the winner advanced to the 7A Final Four and the loser went home.
Vestavia needed only nine minutes to break into the scoring column, as the Lady Rebels slammed home a goal via a deflected free kick to take an early 1-0 lead. Oak Mountain responded late in the first half when Sydney Jeter knocked home the equalizer to go into the half tied 1-1.
Both teams traded chances in the second half, but neither could pull ahead, and the game went to overtime. After two scoreless overtime periods, it headed to penalty kicks.
It was somewhat ironic that two of the best teams in the state had to determine a winner with penalty kicks, but there was no other recourse for two teams with such a microscopic difference in talent.
The first five penalty kicks left the result still inconclusive, as both teams made three apiece. After the first set of penalty kicks, the game went into a sudden death scenario. If either team made and the other missed on the same set, the game ended. The Lady Eagles and Vestavia traded turns, and with the pressure mounting by the minute, both teams made five in a row to extend the game to a third set of penalty kicks with the same rules in place.
Both teams traded one make before trading a miss as well. Alexandra Dunn knocked in the 25th penalty kick of the game, and Vestavia finally cracked, missing the 26th to give the Lady Eagles the win and the Final Four berth.
Katie Denney saved three penalty kicks between the posts for Oak Mountain. The Lady Eagles will next take on Bob Jones on May 8 for a chance at the 7A state title.