Spain Park girls take down rival Oak Mountain in thrilling area battle
Published 7:48 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
NORTH SHELBY – It was déjà vu for the Spain Park girls soccer team on Tuesday, March 21, as the went on the road to take on No. 1 Oak Mountain in a battle of top three teams for the top spot in the area.
It was eerily similar to a year ago when the Jags and Eagles met in the playoffs at Oak Mountain High School with the season on the line and the Jaguars scored a late goal in the second half for a 1-0 win that sent them on a path to the state championship.
This time around, there wasn’t as much on the line with area games still left on the schedule, but with the winner improving to 3-0 in area play, the game was an important one for two teams hoping to claim an area championship and a higher seed in the playoffs.
Just like the playoff game a year ago, the two teams were scoreless for the entire first half and for much of the second half.
But midway through the second half, the Jags used their pressure to create an opportunity they had been waiting for throughout the game.
Pushing it on a breakaway up the right side of the field, the ball exchanged Spain Park players three different times, eventually being passed over to Tatum Ahlemeyer.
Ahlemeyer, who was stellar in last year’s championship run as well, gathered the ball with her right foot, dribbled to her left and reared back to drill a left-footed kick from close to 25 yards out.
The ball traveled around a leaping Oak Mountain player trying to block it and over the outstretched hands of the Eagles’ keeper into the top left corner of the net for a goal.
That impressive shot from Ahlemeyer put the Jaguars on top with just more than 20 minutes to play. And just like last year’s playoff win, they relied on their defense from there.
As much as Oak Mountain tried to find the equalizer, the Spain Park defense continued an impressive season by finishing off the shutout win for the 1-0 victory.
It marked the Jags’ sixth shutout of the season, as they improved to 3-0 in the area and 9-2-1 overall. Spain Park has now given up one goal or less in nine of 12 this season and two goals or less in 10 of 12 to take over the top spot in the area ahead of spring break.
Oak Mountain is now 12-2 overall and 2-1 in the area with a defense that has given up one goal or less in all 14 games this season. The offense, however, has scored three or less in all but four games and one or less in the last three in a row.
The two teams will meet again at Spain Park on Tuesday, April 11, while both still have one game each against Chelsea and Hewitt-Trussville left on the schedule to determine who will walk away with the top two spots in the area and a spot in the playoffs.