Oak Mountain beats Hoover 1-0 to claim area championship

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

HOOVER – It took just 1:09 of game time for the Oak Mountain girls soccer team to win the Class 7A Area 5 championship on Tuesday, April 16, as Danielle Retief buried a shot in the back of the net quickly, letting the Eagles’ defense do the work the rest of the night to pick up a 1-0 shutout and claim the area title.

Retief has been a force all season for the Eagles, and her goal a minute into the game set the tone for the remainder of the night, as Oak Mountain’s offense controlled the ball for 90 percent of the game despite only finding the net one time.

The goal, which became the game-winner so early on, was assisted beautifully by Nicole Payne. The speedy tracks tart pushed the ball up the right side of the field and eventually got 10 yards right of the box before crossing the ball into the box.

Originally it looked like she was trying to connect with Emmi Long directly in front of the net, but the ball skirted just out of Long’s reach and found Retief a little further away.

She took one dribble to line up her shot, but then fired the ball, which ricocheted off the top of the cross bar and slid down into the goal for a 1-0 advantage.

For the rest of the first half, Oak Mountain controlled the ball offensively, never really allowing the Buccaneers to keep control on the other side of the midfield line.

The Eagles got a couple of more chances in the opening half, but never found as good of an opportunity as that first one. With the defense playing as well as it was, and the offense keeping control, it didn’t matter though, as they took a 1-0 lead into the break.

Coming out in the second half, the Eagles continued to press despite the lead and got four more shots on goal in the first 13 minutes of the period, including one from Payne that hit the crossbar.

Then, a quick shift ensued over the next few minutes.

With 23:20 left in the game, Hoover got its first threat of the game, and it was a dangerous one.

Off a corner kick, the Bucs got several looks just feet from the goal as the ball was batted back and forth between defenders and shooters, but somehow a great save and several defensive legs from the Eagles kept the ball out of the net, despite a goal looking inevitable in the situation.

Hoover continued pressing, and got close on several shots over the next 10 minutes of the game, including another corner that ended with more commotion directly in front of the goal.

The Bucs’ corner was played in and ended with a header just a few feet in front of the right post, but it was directed a foot wide of the net with the keeper also there and prepared for the save.

From that point forward, the Eagles got back to what made the first 55 minutes of the game so successful by controlling the ball again. They didn’t allow anymore great looks to Hoover, as they went on to close out the 1-0 victory to claim the area championship.

With the victory, Oak Mountain improved to 15-2-1 with four games left in the regular season.