E.A. Sports Today

Bump in the road

Oxford girls soccer team still on the rise despite loss in tournament bracket final

By East Alabama Sports Today
It could have been a long bus ride home for the Oxford girls soccer team after it lost to Pelham 3-1 in the bronze bracket final of the Lakeshore Shootout Saturday, but that’s not where the Lady Jackets’ minds were.
“We’re not looking at the fact we lost in the finals today,” coach Aaron Barrett said. “We’re looking at the fact we’ve brought home two trophies two weeks in a row.”
The Lady Jackets finished second in their bracket of Lincoln’s Golden Goal Classic last week and the two weeks of relative success mark a resurgence of the program.
The team won only one game last season – a PK shootout over Weaver in the county tournament – and was 4-12 the year before. They are 6-2 this year – the most wins since 2015 (six) – with six shutouts and an 18-8 goals differential.
“All it is is belief,” Barrett said. “There’s a belief in the team – the coaches feel it, the girls feel it, the athletic department feels it. We’re trying to be better than ourselves and I think that’s the difference. We’re not trying to go out and win games against other teams, we’re trying to be better than the team you were the last game.
“We are on the young side so really we’re at the beginning of what we’re doing in this program. The reason we come to Birmingham is to play though hard teams. I didn’t really expect us to be in the finals. To be there was a great accomplishment.”
The Lady Jackets reached the finals by shutting out Mortimer Jordan, Susan Moore and McAdory (without allowing a shot). They fell behind Pelham 2-0 before freshman Reygan White got them on the board midway through the first half. The Panthers added an insurance goal midway through the second half.
Oxford’s defense has been particularly stout during this resurgence. Keepers Diona Ulmer and Ceanna Dickerson get credit for the shutouts, but the line of defense in front of them – seventh-grader Yaretzi Blancas and freshmen Sawyer Brooks and Hannah Grace Robbins – has been equally strong. Brooks made the all-tournament team Saturday.
Barrett agreed the turnaround is “a great thing,” but insists “we’re not going to dwell on that.”
“We’re not thinking about that right now, we’ve got a whole season to go,” he said. “Things are looking up, we just have to keep going. We’ve set our sights on the playoffs and all that. It’s just good to be in a position now to where we can compete and we can make our mark on the state level.”

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