Hamilton posts 4 goals to lead Jags to opening-night upset of Eagles

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Preston Hamilton entered the 2019 soccer season ready to go for the Spain Park Jaguars, and it showed, as the junior poured in four goals to lead the unranked Jags to an opening-night, comeback road victory against No. 4 Oak Mountain by a final score of 6-5.

After falling behind 2-0 early in the second half and 3-1 at one point, Spain Park was able to make up a ton of ground with very little time left, but outscoring the Eagles 5-2 the rest of the way.

A big reason for that was the three goals they scored in a five-minute stretch that quickly put the Jags in front 4-3. Spain Park eventually made it four unanswered goals after pouring in another one late in the half, before holding off a late comeback from Oak Mountain, who poured in two more goals to create the final score of 6-5.

After a scoreless first half between the two teams, the action revved up quickly in the second half with Oak Mountain scoring two goals in the first few minutes to take the 2-0 advantage.

With Spain Park’s offense unable to put in shots into the net to that point in the game, it looked as if that deficit may be tough to overcome in one half, but thanks to a key answer from Hamilton, the Jaguars’ entire outlook on the game changed.

After the Eagles took that 2-0 lead, the Jags got the confidence boost they needed on the ensuing kickoff. Sam Marino was able to gather the ball up the right side before crossing the ball across the field to Hamilton, who quickly connected on a shot to put his first goal in the back of the net.

Oak Mountain ended up scoring a few minutes later to jump up 3-1, as the two teams had combined for four goals in less than eight minutes after a scoreless first half, but that goal by the Eagles ended up igniting Spain Park.

With the game taking an offensive turn, the Jags were ready to start scoring at will, and did just that with three goals in the next five minutes to storm in front for a 4-3 advantage.

The first of those goals came when William Tidwell found Logan Bradley streaking down the field. Bradley got behind the defense and was able to lob a beautiful pass to Hamilton on the far side post for his second goal of the game.

It didn’t take long at all for Hamilton to pick up his third goal of the game thanks to grabbing a loose ball near the goal, before firing it in the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3 thanks to his stellar start to the half.

After staving off a great chance from the Eagles a few minutes later, Spain Park was able to take the lead when freshman Alan Melendez found the ball in the penalty area before striking in his first goal of the season as well.

Some time passed with each team seeing chances over the next several minutes of play, but Hamilton was still feeling confident. He eventually posted his fourth goal of the game off a nice possession featuring several great passes, including a nice assist from Tidwell to put the Jags on top 5-3 with 10 minutes remaining.

Oak Mountain was able to get within a goal with seven minutes remaining after knocking in a fourth goal of the half, but Spain Park had a big answer yet again.

Tidwell, who was seemingly always around the ball during the game, was able to beat the Eagles’ defense, before serving another nice assist to Bradley, who pummeled in his first goal of the season and the difference-making sixth goal of the half for Spain Park.

Oak Mountain was able to add one more goal in the final two minutes, but was unable to get a chance at a game-tying goal, as the Jags held on for the thrilling 6-5 comeback win to kick off the season.