Oak Mountain scores in final minutes to take down No. 2 Vestavia Hills

Published 10:41 am Thursday, March 14, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – With time winding down and the score tied at 2-2, it looked as if the Oak Mountain Eagles and Vestavia Hills Rebels would split the spoils and end Tuesday, March 12’s top-three showdown in a draw.

However, the Eagles changed that when they capitalized on a counterattack opportunity in the 79th minute, sending a cross into the box, off the glove of the Rebels keeper and allowing Grace Payne to score the game-winning goal.

That goal in the final minutes of the match allowed Oak Mountain to claim the 3-2 win and start the celebration with their home fans at Oak Mountain High School.

The Eagles had to defend a pair of Vestavia chances in the opening 11 minutes with a goal-line clearance and a save.

Then, in the 18th minute, Oak Mountain sent a free kick down the field and landed down low in the box for Raegan Whitaker, who sent the ball into the top shelf away from the Rebels keeper and put her team up 1-0.

Just a few minutes later, the Eagles had to fend off multiple challenges from Vestavia Hills, notably a run into the box in the 26th minute that Oak Mountain challenged on the ground and sent out for a corner kick which led to nothing.

The Eagles nearly took the 1-0 score line into the halftime break, but the Rebels struck with their last effort of the half.

Just 25 seconds before halftime, Vestavia launched a cross from the right side of the field right into the middle, taking advantage of a wide-open shooting lane to tie up the game at 1-1.

The opening 15 minutes of the second half came and went without a goal to break the deadlock, but Oak Mountain capitalized on a golden opportunity shortly after.

In the 76th minute, the Rebels sent out a goal kick, but the Eagles quickly intercepted it. Hadley Eddins noticed the Vestavia keeper was outside of the goal and launched a strike from outside the box to score and take a 2-1 lead.

The Rebels then had a strong chance in the 64th minute when the ball landed on the ground in front of the net, but just a minute later, they converted their next chance to tie the match back up at 2-2.

Oak Mountain pressed the attack in the final 10 minutes as Whitaker, Eddins and Kati Anne Shepherd all tried to get the game-winning goal but couldn’t convert.

Then, with just over a minute left and the match winding down, the Eagles landed the final blow.

That was when Oak Mountain’s counterattack in the 79th minute produced the game-winning goal from Payne, and the Eagles controlled the ball in the final minute to see out the 3-2 win.

The Eagles will return to action at home against Daphne on Friday, March 15 at 5 p.m.