It only took the Homewood Patriots 73 seconds to score in its 2-1 victory over Oak Mountain on Tuesday, jumpstarting a much-needed home performance in its final regular season game after tying Thompson and losing to Chelsea in their previous two games at Waldrop Stadium. Hardy Smith found himself isolated with an opposing Eagle on the right side of the penalty area before swerving a cross into the box toward an on-running Jacob Sitton whose pressure was enough to see the ball deflect off a defender and into the corner of the net.
Ten minutes later the Eagles were back on level terms, however, scoring through a cutting counter attack. Oak Mountain forward Corbitt Grundhoefer picked up a cleared ball in acres of spaces behind Homewood’s backline, drove toward the goal and slotted past a helpless Luke Keown in goal. Thereafter, Keown made several close-range saves throughout the half to keep his team in the game before Bryan Sokell struck the game winner with about 15 minutes remaining in the half.
For the goal, left back Liam Dwyer played the ball vertically into Smith’s feet who flicked the ball wide into the path of Sokell who smashed a low drive from the top corner of the penalty area into the opposite bottom corner. Homewood led at the half and would hold on to see out that small lead in the second half. Keown again came up with a pair of good second half saves while Hudson Wingo, Jake Rowell, Fox Landgren and Hatim Nasser all put in shifts to help their goalkeeper hold off a second-half swarm of pressure from the Eagles.
Oak Mountain ultimately celebrated at Waldrop Stadium, however. After the game, Eagle players, coaches and parents anxiously awaited the result of their 7A Area 5 rivals Hoover and Thompson, as a Hoover victory would stamp the Oak Mountain ticket into playoffs. They were made to wait around a while, clutching their phones for updates as the game went into extra time and finally penalty kicks before they received the word of a Hoover victory. Rapturous cheers ensued, and if you’ll allow your author to editorialize (and speak in the third person), it was one of those great moments that make high school athletics special.
The Patriots finished with a regular season record of 13-3-3 and host Minor for the opening round of playoffs April 22 at 4:30 while the girls varsity team will host Jasper at 6:30.