E.A. Sports Today

Nobody’s Lion, Oxford soccer kings

Yellow Jackets win county boys soccer crown; four-goal ‘Lion King’ Fernandez named MVP

Oxford’s Alexis (Lion) Fernandez (6) was named boys county soccer tournament MVP after scoring four goals in the first 23 minutes of the title match. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Lion Fernandez remembers the sadness and frustration that followed the Oxford soccer team out of the county tournament title game last year.

The Yellow Jackets were determined not to feel that way again.

The Lion King and Yellow Jackets left little doubt of their place in the county soccer hierarchy Saturday, erupting for four goals in the first four and a half minutes and crushing top-seeded Saks 10-2 at the Choccolocco Park soccer complex.

“It was actually a culmination of things,” Oxford coach Aaron Barrett said. “Our whole tournament was about gaining respect. We came out and we did that this tournament. We can walk away from this tournament and there’s not a doubt in anybody’s mind that we’re the best team in this county.”

Fernandez, whose given name is Alexis but is known as Lion for the flowing, glowing locks of his youth, scored a career-best four goals in an 18-minute stretch of the first half and was named tournament MVP. He scored his first two 13 seconds apart at the end of that first four flurry.

Before anyone could get reasonably comfortable on this blustery night the Jackets were up 5-0. It was 7-2 at halftime.

“It was fast,” Saks coach Lamus McCombs said while noting all the changes that have been made in the Wildcats defense in response to its loss of two key players.

“That blew my mind,” Barrett said of the fast start. “I always knew that we were a good team. I always had the sense we were going to win, but I thought it was going to be a 3-0 or 4-0 (game). I never thought it would be like that. If we keep playing like that our season is going to go far.”

The Yellow Jackets lost to 1A Donoho in last year’s inaugural county tournament final. They admitted that result was a case of overconfidence and complacency.

Revenge, regardless of the opponent, was easily the fuel of Saturday’s rout.

“We wanted to win,” Fernandez said. “Last year kind of hurt; some of us even teared up. It showed us don’t underestimate people or a team. We tried our best (tonight) and just came out with our hearts.”

Not that they needed the help, the Jackets’ first score came on an own-goal 1:43 into the match when the Saks defense failed to clear the ball away from an open net. Misael Reyes made it 2-0 with less than three minutes gone and Fernandez scored his first two goals with 35:49 and 35:36 left in the half.

Zane Barbao made it 5-0, then Saks got on the board with an own goal as the Jackets started getting sloppy with their big early lead. Fernandez then scored his final two goals at 21:20 and 17:43.

“He’s phenomenal; I can’t put into words how good he is,” Barrett said his Lion. “He’s definitely, without a doubt, the best player in the county, probably in the state. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never seen anybody with not only the skill he has but the work and effort he puts in every time. His knowledge for the game is amazing. He’s without a doubt an all-around player. He makes the team tick. He’s the best player I’ve ever coached on all levels.”

To see a gallery of photos from the match visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Oxford 10, Saks 2
Oxford 7 3 – 10
Saks 2 0 – 2

Scoring Summary
First half:
Oxford, own goal, 1:37; Oxford, Misael Reyes, 2:57; Oxford, Lion Fernandez, 4:11; Oxford, Lion Fernandez, 4:24; Oxford, Zane Barbao, 8:46; Saks, own goal, 11:10; Oxford, Lion Fernandez, 18:40; Oxford, Lion Fernandez, 22:17; Saks, Thanawat Promraj, 28:09.

Second half: Oxford, Christian Fernandez, 51:55; Oxford, Hector Caceres, 65:58; Oxford, own goal, 71:40.

Misael Reyes, Oxford; Rudy Calderon, Oxford; Zane Barboa, Oxford; Jahir Oritz, Saks; Anthony Cornejo, Saks; Eric Ausborn, Jacksonville; Mac Love, Donoho; Melvin Fernandez, Anniston; Kyle Knight, Weaver; Jeremy Kirkland, Sacred Heart; Charles Conway, Faith Christian.
Outstanding Offensive Player: Corey Watkins, Saks
Outstanding Defensive Player: Hector Caceres, Oxford
Most Vaulable Player: Lion Fernandez, Oxford

Oxford’s attacking offense kept Saks goalie Roilan Torres (blue shirt) busy all night. The Yellow Jackets scored four goals in the first five minutes and seven in the first half. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

On the cover: Oxford soccer coach Aaron Barrett gives his team some last-minute instructions before sending it out to face top-seeded Saks in the county tournament championship game. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login