Oak Mountain earns revenge, trip to Final Four in win over defending champ Spain Park
Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 5, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
NORTH SHELBY – Walking off the field following a 1-0 loss to Spain Park in the opening round of the 2022 playoffs, the top-ranked Oak Mountain girls soccer team felt like they let the season slip away.
A motivating factor driving the team into the offseason and throughout the 2023 season, the Eagles got the moment they were waiting for on Friday, May 5—another crack at their rivals.
After splitting the regular-season matchups with the Eagles winning the latter of the two by two goals to earn the area championship, the two met in the quarterfinals of the playoffs on Friday night with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
And, just like a year earlier in the opening round, it was another one-goal game that determined the winner.
This time around, however, rather than it coming down to the final minutes before a goal was scored, it happened early, as defense ruled the majority of the night.
That difference-making goal came in the first 10 minutes of the game, as a battle for the ball ended with one of the team’s leaders knocking it in when Kierson McDonald put the Eagles in front 1-0.
Oak Mountain was able to get to the half with that advantage, which allowed the Eagles to shift their attention to defending the lead as a team that had posted 16 shutouts in 25 games this season.
With that determination, it became about fending of chances for Spain Park, and the Jags put the Eagles to the test.
Spain Park controlled the ball for much of the second half, especially from the midway point on, but Oak Mountain made it just difficult enough on the visitors that they never could capitalize.
Despite chances down the stretch, the Jags couldn’t capitalize, and the Eagles were able to hold off any game-tying attempts in a tense sprint to the finish to close out their 17th shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory to punch a ticket to the Final Four.
With the win, Oak Mountain improved to 22-3 overall this season heading into the Final Four, while the Eagles have won five in a row and 10 of 11.
Oak Mountain will take on No. 5 Sparkman in the semifinals on Thursday, May 11 at 3 p.m., as the two highest-ranked teams left in the playoffs will meet ahead of the championship game.