Eagles shut out Vestavia, advance to title game

By MIKE EASTERLING | Special to the Reporter

HUNTSVILLE – Jackson Murphy shot an imaginary arrow toward the crowd after his second goal of the game, not knowing how symbolic the gesture was.

Jackson’s goal came with over 30 minutes still left to play, but it gave Oak Mountain an insurmountable three-goal lead just seconds after Vestavia Hills missed a golden opportunity to pull within one.

The Rebels were done.

Meanwhile, Oak Mountain went on to advance to the Class 7A boys soccer state championship game with a 3-0 victory Friday at John Hunt Park.

“It was what one of the guys told me to do,’’ Murphy said of the impromptu celebration.

The Eagles (19-4-4) will play Davidson (17-12-1) at 10 a.m. Saturday for the title. The Warriors advanced with a 2-1 shootout win over Enterprise.

Oak Mountain will seek its third straight state championship in its first meeting with Davidson this season.

Eagles coach Daniel DeMasters can only hope his team continues to execute like it did against Vestavia Hills in a physical rematch of a season-opening 2-2 tie between the rivals..

“We did all the things we wanted to do,’’ he said. “These guys knew it was a business trip and they got it done. The guys on our team know their guys very well. It was a battle.

“Our goalkeeper (Matthew Hazelwood) was incredible. He had one of his best games all season, and our backs were unbelievable.’’

The game’s biggest exchange came within 10 minutes of the second half and Oak Mountain leading 2-0.

Vestavia Hills worked the ball into the front of net, where Clayton Bowden had a point-blank attempt in front of Hazelwood. From about five yards out, Bowden caught the goalkeeper leaning to his left, but his low shot to the other side went wide.

Bowden fell to his knees with his head in his hands, and about 30 seconds later Murphy scored unassisted to make it 3-0 with 30:31 left to play in the game.

The Rebels had one last chance to start a rally, but Hazelwood collected a short header by Coleman Jennings from just outside the net.

“Anytime we’ve had a game that was critical to go to the next level we’ve stepped up,’’ Hazelwood said after saving two of two shots on goal.

Vestavia Hills goalkeeper Davis Edwards saved one of four shots.

Kennedy Davis scored unassisted with 36:54 left in the first half to give Oak Mountain a 1-0 lead.

Murphy scored his first goal, also unassisted, to make it 2-0 with just 1:45 remaining until halftime.

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