Oak Mountain boys come up short to Huntsville in 7A Soccer Semifinals

Published 12:24 am Friday, May 12, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HUNTSVILLE – It was a valiant effort from the Oak Mountain Eagles, but they fell short against the Huntsville Panthers, 1-0, in the Class 7A Semifinals.

“I feel bad for these guys and especially my seniors,” Oak Mountain coach David Di Piazza said after the game. “I thought they left everything on the field today, and I’m really proud of them. And I just hurt for them.

Huntsville had the big chances early in the game, and they eventually turned into an unassisted goal from Caleb Alldredge in the 16th minute.

One of Nate Joiner’s four shots for Oak Mountain came in the 21st minute but got saved by Huntsville’s Harrison Shiner.

From there, most of the Eagles’ attack for the rest of the half came from corners. Corners came in the 24th, 30th and 32nd minutes but all came up empty as Oak Mountain went into the half with the momentum.

While the shots were even at two going into halftime, it was all Oak Mountain in the second half. The Eagles outshot the Panthers, 13-0, in the second period as they desperately searched for an equalizer.

Five minutes into the half, one of Oak Mountain’s best chances of the game hit the left post and came extremely close to knotting up the score.

Huntsville got a great breakaway after two Oak Mountain shots and a corner, but Adam Alemond cleared the effort away.

First Team All-Metro selection Om Shrestha tried to get on the scoresheet in both the 55th and 63rd minute and couldn’t score.

In between the Shrestha efforts, Luke Jovanovich took a direct free kick that went straight to the Huntsville keeper and was saved.

Then, in the 69th minute, Harrison Kilgore sent in a cross from the left wing but couldn’t find an Eagles head.

Gerardo Rodriguez’s left wing cross two minutes later did find a head, but it missed the goal.

After weathering a steady storm of Eagles chances, Huntsville got a series of breakaways towards their goal.

Two of those drew Oak Mountain yellow cards, and one that was expertly cleared away in a one-on-one battle that likely saved a Panthers chance.

Oak Mountain wouldn’t go down quietly as the Eagles put up a pair of chances in the final minute.

The first was a midfield free kick won on a Pelham yellow card that goalkeeper Joey Scheider sent into the box, but each of the Eagles players who got the ball couldn’t get a clean shot off.

The final chance was off a shot from Gabe Capocci that went just left of the goal after a quick throw-in.

Finally, the frantic sequence ended and Oak Mountain’s quest for a tying goal came to an end at full time.

It was a hard-fought battle between two great sides, and coach Di Piazza believes that the Alldredge goal for Huntsville was all that separated the teams.

“I thought Huntsville played well,” coach Di Piazza said. “They’re deserving winners. You know, I thought both teams played really hard. I mean, the difference is a goal. That’s it.”

Oak Mountain’s run to the championship ends in the state semifinals, but despite coming up short, coach Di Piazza is proud of the effort his team put in all season long.

“I’m going to look back at the journey that this group had and just, I coach 23 tremendous human beings that are great soccer players, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” coach Di Piazza said. I’m very proud of them and what they do in the classroom. I’m proud of what they do on the soccer field, and I’m proud about their character and the effort that they gave today, the effort they gave all year, and it’s a blessing to coach kids that are such good human beings and come from such great families. And I’m just very thankful to be a part of it.”

Joiner led the Eagles with four shots and Capocci had three shots with two coming on goal.