E.A. Sports Today

Jackets denied

Lack of adequate prep time due to the circumstances and Florence’s attacking style send Oxford to a 4-0 ‘second-chance’ loss in Class 6A soccer playoffs

Oxford keeper Jorge Olmos was under relentless pressure by Florence’s attacking style in Tuesday night’s Class 6A playoff match. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The Oxford soccer team got a second chance at the Class 6A playoffs Tuesday night, but visiting Florence just wouldn’t let the Yellow Jackets take advantage of it.

The Flashes attacked right from the start and, exacerbated by Oxford’s lack of preparation, scored three early goals and ended the Yellow Jackets’ season for the second time in five days 4-0.

Oxford was beaten by Cullman 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs Friday but got a second life Monday when the AHSAA removed the Bearcats from the playoffs for using an ineligible player.

The Yellow Jackets learned of the ruling about 1:30 p.m. Monday and the players found out between classes. They had no time to practice for the Flashes’ aggressive attack and it was evident early.

Edi Alvarado and Acker Holt scored 30 seconds apart in the tenth minute of the match and Holt added a second goal five minutes later. Holt completed his hat trick in the first five minutes of the second half.

“The cards were always against us,” Oxford coach Aaron Barrett said. “We weren’t prepared. It’s hard to change the mentality of high school kids from being out of the playoffs to ‘Oh man, we’ve got a second chance.’

“Every team that lost in the first round prayed for the chance that we had today. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any prep time. That’s eventually what killed us.”

The Flashes (13-6-1), reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in school history, attacked from everywhere. Oxford keeper Jorge Olmos was a late arrival and entered about three minutes in. He was focused, he said, but the lack of preparation hurt them.

Even when the Flashes didn’t score they came close. Alvarado banged a shot off the cross bar about two minutes before he scored. There were at least two other shots the Jackets’ defense cleared away from an open goal.

The Flashes didn’t come out fast in hopes of mitigating any emotional high the Yellow Jackets may have by getting their second chance. They play that way all the time.

“It was clicking early on tonight, it really was,” Florence coach Glenn Harscheid said. “If I got off the bus and a black cat ran in front of us I was going to run away because that’s the thing when you give folks a second chance. They came to play; unfortunately they didn’t have the opportunity to train like we did after Friday and that probably made a big difference. I know it would have with us.”

Down 3-0, the Yellow Jackets (10-10) opened their approach more in the second half and managed a few good scoring chances, but the Flashes soon shut that down.

“We just went into an attacking formation,” Barrett said. “Huge, huge props to Florence and the mentality of their guys. It didn’t faze them at all when we switched tactics. They recognized it real quick and they cut it out immediately.”

The Flashes now visit Fort Payne in a 7 p.m. Friday quarterfinals match.

DONOHO AT HOME: The Donoho girls learned their second-round playoff opponent Tuesday night. The Lady Falcons (16-1) will host Sylvania (16-4) at 5 p.m. Friday. Sylvania edged Mars Hill Bible, 3-2.

Florence’s Edi Alvarado (10) gives thanks after Acker Holt (2) scored the first of his three goals against Oxford in the Class 6A playoffs Tuesday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see a photo gallery from Tuesday’s match, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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