Oak Mountain beats Hoover to earn trip back to Final Four
Published 11:08 pm Friday, May 5, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
HOOVER – For the second year in a row, the Oak Mountain boys soccer team earned a trip to Huntsville to compete in the Final Four after a rivalry win against the Hoover Buccaneers on Friday, May 5.
The Eagles, who sit as the top-ranked team in the state, beat Hoover on the road 1-0 earlier in the year, but with the season on the line, they were looking for a better result this time around as they continue on their redemption path after coming up short of last year’s championship.
Looking to make a statement and continue building confidence with six wins in a row entering the matchup, Oak Mountain matched its output from the first game between the two this season within the first four minutes of action.
With one of the state’s best defenses, that was an important confidence boost early in the must-win matchup, especially as the game shifted to a defensive battle from there.
Both teams staved off opposing chances the rest of the first half, leading to a 1-0 lead for Oak Mountain at the break.
But, similar to the first half, a quick start to the second half for the Eagles helped them build their lead.
Less than two minutes into the period, they were able to added a second goal to extend their lead to 2-0 with 31 minutes to play.
Now, a defense that had given up one goal or less in seven straight and 23 of 26 games this season had some breathing room.
The Bucs, however, didn’t roll over.
A little less than 10 minutes after Oak Mountain scored, Hoover answered with its first goal of the game to cut the deficit to 2-1 and make it interesting again with 21:48 to play.
That seemingly woke Oak Mountain’s offense up again, as the Eagles not only prevented an equalizer from the Bucs but went on to add an insurance goal with 16:11 to play off a made shot from Om Shrestha.
The Eagles settled in defensively from there and held off any late pushes from Hoover to cement the 3-1 victory and advance to the Final Four.
With the win, Oak Mountain improved to 22-2-2 on the season and hasn’t lost since falling 1-0 to Fort Payne on March 7.
The Eagles will now take on Huntsville in the Final Four at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 11 at John Hunt Park in Huntsville.