Oak Mountain downs Hoover to advance to second round, remain undefeated

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The dream of an undefeated season and a state title will live on for the Oak Mountain Eagles as they earned a 3-1 victory over the Hoover Buccaneers on Monday, April 29 at Oak Mountain High School in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.

The 26-0-1 Eagles scored the first three goals of the match to build out a commanding multi-goal lead and book their place in the second round.

Oak Mountain got their first chance in the attacking third early on in the third minute when it got a run at goal, and after play stalled out near the box for a few moments, the resulting shot just missed the goal.

The match wouldn’t remain deadlocked for long as the Eagles got a scoring chance off a corner kick in the seventh minute.

After Aidan Riley dribbled the ball up off the short corner, he crossed the ball to the top of the box for a shot attempt that missed, but he was in position near the left side of the goal to score off the rebound and put Oak Mountain up 1-0.

The Eagles got a pair of chances over the next 10 minutes, including one in the 11th minute and another from a rolling shot by Nate Joiner in the 15th minute.

Hoover got an opportunity with a corner kick in the 17th minute, but the cross from outside the box was grabbed the Oak Mountain’s keeper.

In the 20th minute, Sam Collins made a cross from the goal line to try and create the second goal, but a slip at the other end of the pass meant that the Eagles couldn’t convert. The Bucs keeper also grabbed a short free kick from Oak Mountain mere seconds later.

The Eagles got another pair of chances in the 26th minute, including a shot that went over the goal off a cross and another shot that was saved by Hoover.

The momentum continued to favor Oak Mountain and built towards a big chance in the 29th minute as a low shot ricocheted off the right post, just inches from going into the goal.

A minute later in the 30th minute, Joiner got off on a breakaway, avoided the tackle from behind by the Hoover defender and slid the shot past the diving Bucs keeper to make the lead 2-0.

A 32nd minute Grant Egan cross and a 36th minute Joiner header that went over the goal gave the Eagles another pair of chances before the half, and the continued pressure helped Oak Mountain keep the 2-0 lead at the break.

Riley wasted little time getting the offense back going in the second half as he took a run at goal in the 45th minute. He made a go for goal, but the Hoover defenders beat the ball to the net and the shot was cleared.

The Eagles then tried a shallow shot along the goal line at the bottom right corner in the 50th minute. However, the shot was saved down low to keep the score as it stood.

Two minutes later, Oak Mountain’s defense dispatched a Bucs breakaway to preserve the clean sheet.

With the Eagles still getting more quality time of possession, they built up towards a third goal and eventually got into the back of the net once more.

Luke Jovanovich got a chance to make a counterattacking run in the 64th minute, and as he reached the goal line, he crossed it back to Joiner atop the eight-yard box. Joiner then got enough elevation on the shot to beat the keeper, secure his brace and put his team up 3-0.

However, Hoover had an immediate response to the third goal as Conrad Hernandez scored shortly after the kickoff to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Oak Mountain made sure that was the lone blemish of the night as it saw out the final 16 minutes by controlling the ball and limiting the Bucs chances to secure the 3-1 win.

The No. 1 Eagles now have a matchup on deck with No. 2 Chelsea in the second round with a spot in the Final Four on the line.