Oak Mountain downs rival Spain Park by one to advance in postseason

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

NORTH SHELBY – With the season on the line, Oak Mountain hosted rival Spain Park in the opening round of the Class 7A girls soccer playoffs on Monday, April 26 looking to advance to the quarterfinals.

In a tight battle between the two schools separated by less than three miles, the visiting Jaguars struck first for a 1-0 lead in the opening half, but the Eagles bounced back with three goals in a row before holding on to claim a 3-2 victory and keep their season alive.

As two of the top five teams in the state, neither was set on their season ending, which led to the exciting matchup between two teams who had lost a combined seven games and won a combined 31 games.

Oak Mountain entered the matchup with seven wins in a row, but the Jags had been one of the hottest teams in the state and entered with five wins in a row.

Their confidence was high early in the game, knowing they were one of the best teams in the state.

That led to an early goal from Madi Davis in the first three minutes off a great assist to give the Jags a 1-0 lead with 37:19 to play in the first half.

Spain Park paired that with great defense, as it took a while for Oak Mountain to get into a rhythm.

But despite the slow start from the Eagles, they were able to find an equalizer Haley Wells put a shot in the back of the net with 20:45 left in the opening half.

That became the halftime score after both teams locked down defensively over the final 20 minutes of the half.

Oak Mountain, however, was able to make necessary halftime adjustments to try and crack the Spain Park defense.

The Eagles scored nine minutes into the second half on a goal from Kierson McDonald to seize momentum in the match with a 2-1 advantage.

They continued to make life difficult for the Jags defensively and pressed on the offensive end. The constant pressure eventually paid off after it led to Oak Mountain’s third goal.

With 15:20 to play, McDonald added her second goal of the game after the Eagles earned a free kick. She took the kick and drilled the shot for a 3-1 lead.

Spain Park was now in a difficult hole down two with 15 minutes to play, but Tatum Ahlemeyer gave them a chance with 13:46 to play on a goal that brought the Jaguars to within one.

From there, however, Oak Mountain leaned on the home field advantage with a great crowd in attendance and let its defense do the work to preserve the lead over the final 13 minutes to lift them to the win and a spot in the quarterfinal round.

Spain Park ended the year 12-4-1 overall, while the Eagles improved to 19-3-1.