Oak Mountain slips past Chelsea on Shepherd penalty kick

Published 11:21 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – After facing a tough double-overtime test from the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies in their area opener, the Oak Mountain Eagles were locked in another battle from the opening whistle on Thursday, Feb. 28, this time against their county rival, the Chelsea Hornets.

In the end, the Eagles took another 1-0 win at home by the finest of margins, with Kati Anne Shepherd’s penalty kick goal providing the difference between the sides.

Before that, Chelsea proved to be the better side in the first half by beating Oak Mountain to balls despite the Eagles winning set pieces and earning shot opportunities.

Both teams had multiple promising crosses in the opening 15 minutes, but the opposing defenses and keepers kept the ball out of the back of the net.

Much of the Oak Mountain offense was powered by Shepherd as the young forward generated multiple runs and shots midway through the half. However, the Eagles attack couldn’t penetrate Chelsea’s defense at all during the first half.

The Hornets finished the first half strong with a pair of solid shots in the final five minutes to put the pressure on Ella Holt and the Oak Mountain defense. The hosts got out unscathed as the teams went into halftime in a scoreless tie.

Chelsea went on the first run of the half and nearly broke through in the 45th minute when the ball fell into the box with multiple Hornets surrounding it. Holt managed a clearance to avoid the dangerous situation.

Overall, the Eagles were much improved compared to the opening 40 minutes and started gaining momentum with set pieces and breakaway runs even though many ended without a serious threat on goal.

However, the entire game changed in the 63rd minute.

Chelsea committed a penalty inside the box, and that sent Shepherd to the spot in hopes of earning the opening goal.

She calmly converted the penalty kick to put Oak Mountain in front 1-0, and from there, the Eagles saw out the victory.

Shepherd nearly connected with Reagan Whitaker on a cross atop the box in the 65th minute, but the shot was blocked by the Hornets defense to stop her from doubling the lead.

The Eagles finished the game strong by generating a chance off a corner kick in the 79th minute and forcing a blocked shot on a Lauren Prier opportunity with less than 10 seconds left as they nearly closed out the contest with a goal.

That put the finishing touches on the 1-0 win to take Oak Mountain to 2-0 in area play.

The Eagles will return to action on Monday, March 4 as they take on Sparkman at home at 7 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Final 4 showdown.

Chelsea will take on Briarwood in its next match on Tuesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at home.