E.A. Sports Today

‘Davids’ win

Tiny Donoho takes down giant Oxford to win Calhoun County boys soccer tournament; Falcons’ four-goal Wright MVP

Donoho’s Noah Wright (10) scored four goals in the championship match and was named county boys tournament MVP. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — In the world of soccer it’s not quite the scale of Leicester City winning the Premier League, but in some circles it’s pretty close.

Tiny Donoho, one of the smallest schools in the field, followed its game plan to perfection Saturday and stunned heavily favored top-seeded Oxford, the largest school in the county, 5-2 at Choccolocco Park to win the inaugural Calhoun County Boys Soccer Tournament title.

When the tournament was first conceived it was generally believed Oxford wouldn’t have much trouble winning the boys side, and the Yellow Jackets had outscored their first two tournament opponents 19-0. But they were missing several players for the championship match and the Falcons took advantage of it to attack where the Jackets were most vulnerable.

“We’ve been building towards this for probably the four years that I’ve been here and it’s just nice to be on top of the mountain, even if it’s just for a brief period of time,” Donoho coach Matthew Wright said. “It’s just difficult to win in an open tournament with a small school, but today we pulled it together and played probably the best soccer we’ve played in a long time as far as game plan execution. We didn’t always play pretty but we played to what we had to do.”

And that was play “a lot more” aggressively when they were down, “a lot more” defensively when they were up, and always look for the counter-attack.

Junior Noah Wright scored a career-high four goals, mostly off set pieces, and was named tournament MVP.

“It’s pretty darn amazing today,” Matthew Wright said. “Today we were better. We played our game plan, they played hard and we came out with the win. That’s not going to happen every time we play them because they’re such a good team.”

The Yellow Jackets struck early, with Oxford’s Misael Reyes banging home his own rebound after Donoho keeper Ross Hagan made the initial point-blank save 3:30 into the game. Hagan was nervous and Wright was “a little concerned” when the Falcons fell behind, but they reacted well.

Mitchell Baker got the Falcons even when he converted Shea Buckner’s long lead pass and found the back of the net with 18:57 left in the half. Noah Wright gave the Falcons a 3-1 halftime lead when he worked his way through traffic in the box and put a shot into the left side of the cage with 14:35 left and then scored on a deflected 25-yard free kick with 9:44 left.

“We’d never been in the adverse situation like we were today,” Oxford coach Dwight McDonald said. “(With all the highly touted teams they’ve played), we’d always go deep in the second half 1-1. We were never down like we were today. … We knew what we needed to do to win, but they were just more aggressive and they wanted it more. It was just a tough day.”

The Yellow Jackets picked up the attack in the second half and cut their deficit to 3-2 when Alejandro Miranda scored from the doorstep off another unsecured rebound with 20:56 to play. Seven minutes later Wright gave the Falcons some breathing room when he bounced a shot past Oxford keeper Jorge Olmos-Lopez and then all but sealed it with a penalty kick with 8:43 to play.

“Really, it’s just about hard work,” Noah said. “I wouldn’t want to say they underestimated us, we just played to our full potential. We came out here, played our full potential, played our game and just wanted it.

“My dad was telling me I really don’t really care how you play, you’ve got to want it more than they do. If you want it more you’ll get it and sure enough that’s what we were able to do today.”

Here is the All-County Team:
Most Valuable Player — Noah Wright, Donoho
Most Valuable Offensive Player — Mitchell Baker, Donoho
Most Valuable Defensive Player — Shea Buckner, Donoho
Jaylen Jackson, Anniston; Tej Patel, Donoho; Keaton Borrelli, Oxford; Misael Reyes, Oxford; Alexis Fernandez, Oxford; Daniel Clark, Faith Christian; Caden Hendrickson, Jacksonville; Davis King, Jacksonville; Jeremy Kirkland, Sacred Heart; Diego Chables, Saks; Anthony Cornejo, Saks; Matt Elston, Weaver.

Donoho keeper Ross Hagan made the initial save of Oxford’s Misael Reyes (11), but the ball got away and Reyes scored the game’s first goal.

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Donoho-Oxford game, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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