Eagles end season as top team in nation
Published 3:41 pm Thursday, May 19, 2016
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – The awards just keep coming in for this Oak Mountain team. The boys’ soccer program, fresh off an undefeated season and its second-consecutive 7A state title, has now been tabbed as the top boys prep soccer team in the country, per the USA Today/NSCAA Super 25 rankings released on May 17. The Eagles, who finished the year with a 28-0-2 record, have been near the top of a number of national polls for the latter-half of this season, and are currently ranked as the No. 2 team in the country by Maxpreps.com, behind only River Bluff (S.C.), but have not eclipsed the No. 1 ranking anywhere until now.
The Eagles first appeared on the USA Today list in the April 5 poll, when Oak Mountain was ranked 16th at 15-0-2, and have generally trended up since that ranking. This most recent ranking represents the largest jump from one poll to the next, as Oak Mountain was ranked 12th in the May 4 poll before jumping up to snag the top spot in the most recent poll.
This Oak Mountain team was highlighted by a core group of seniors, specifically senior defenders, which held this team together. Christian and Chandler Thomason, Brandon Kelley and Landon White made up the all-senior defensive unit, and played in front of senior goalie Ryan Dearman. In 30 games Oak Mountain gave up more than one goal just twice, in the second game of the year against Smiths Station and against Spain Park on Feb 25. On the year the Eagles gave up just 13 goals total, good for an average of less than .5 goals per game, and posted 19 shutouts.
Oak Mountain also benefitted from the presence of potentially the best player in the state in Hunter Holstad. Holstad, who played much of his Oak Mountain career as a defender, but split time this year as a center mid and a forward, filling different roles on a game-to-game basis for the Eagles.
Oak Mountain beat Spain Park 1-0, Vestavia 1-0, Huntsville in a penalty kick shootout and McGill-Toolen 2-1 to claim the state title.