E.A. Sports Today

Wigged out

Donoho’s girls beat Oxford for their fourth straight Calhoun County Soccer Tournament title; coach’s wig undefeated

Championship game
Donoho 2, Oxford 0

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It hasn’t scored a goal, hasn’t made a save and at times has gotten pretty wet-dog smelly, but the wig that warms coach Jay Jenkins’ head on the sideline has had as much to do with Donoho winning another Calhoun County Girls Soccer Tournament title and being unbeaten on the season as anything that has happened on the field.

Donoho girls coach Jay Jenkins, wearing the team’s good-luck wig, watches his team in the county tournament title game. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

The Lady Falcons tightened their hold on the county girls title Saturday when they beat Oxford 2-0 for their fourth straight county crown. No team other than Donoho has ever won the girls tournament and the Lady Falcons have given up only one goal through the entire process.

Tosin Sanusi, the tournament’s offensive player of the year, opened the scoring with a goal in the 15th minute after being turned away at the net just moments before. Tournament MVP Erin Turley, the MVP for the second time, made it 2-0 with a rocket from 30 yards with 32:54 to play. And keeper Maggie Wakefield preserved the shutout with a brilliant diving save with 10:30 to go.

Jenkins donned his bushy brown hairpiece that’s more novelty than fashion accessory before the season opener against Jacksonville to help take his players’ minds off a particularly anxious start and the Lady Falcons haven’t lost since.

“What I’ve noticed about my girls is they don’t play well when they’re nervous, but they play really good when they’re loose and comfortable and laughing and enjoying each other,” Jenkins said. “That’s what they did today. That’s what they’ve done all season and I think the wig has contributed to that.”

The wig does not have a name yet or its own Facebook page, but the way this thing is going, you know one has to be coming. Their only blemish his a tie with Prattville Christian. They’ve only allowed three goals all year.

“It started off as a joke and it’s kind of taken on its own life,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be hot in May if I’m still wearing this thing. It’s hot right now. My head is sweating.”

The wig is always close, usually living in the team backpack Jenkins keeps in the truck. The players were a little worried they might not have in Friday’s tournament semifinals as Jenkins was handling a medical issue. They thought assistant coach Benji Turley or boys coach Matthew Wright might have to put it on to save the day, but Jenkins left the doctors in time to get to the game and the magic continued.

People have said the wig reminds them of Jackie Moon of “Semi-Pro” fame or painter Bob Ross – or even fictitious television soccer coach Ted Lasso. Whatever the look, you can’t argue with its success.

“The first day he showed up with this wig and we were like, ‘What is that,’” Wakefield said. “He said it was a good-luck wig. We were like OK and just rolled with it. The first game was against Jacksonville and we won that one, so we determined this wig was our good-luck wig and with him having it on we haven’t lost a game, so it’s become a tradition type thing, something we can all kind of bond over.”

“It brings team spirit, something we can all get behind, kind of like a momento of our whole journey because he says he’s not going to take it off unless we lose,” Sanusi said. “Even though it’s kind of cringy and we don’t really want it, it’s something we are happy he’s still wearing because it means we haven’t lost a game.”

Tosin Sanusi scored Donoho’s first goal in the championship game and was the tournament’s offensive player of the year. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Sanusi sent the the Lady Falcons on their way to the latest win when she drilled home a rebound after Oxford blocked the initial shot by Zoe Christopher. About a minute earlier Diona Ulmar turned Sanusi away one-on-one.

“I didn’t think it was going to go in,” Sanusi said. “I had just missed. I thought the goalie was going to get it, but it was a super-fast ball. I remember everything kind of slowing down around me as I was shooting. I just waited because it was right in front of me and coach always says if you’ve got a shot take it, so I did and then it went in and I was like, ‘Wow.’”

Turley, a freshman – yes, she earned her first MVP as a seventh grader – made it 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of the second half. She got the ball in the middle of the field, stopped on a dime, pivoted and fired a rocket.

“We talked about shooting from a distance,” Jenkins said. “They have a really good defense and are really fast and we were struggling to break them down. That was one of the things we talked about at halftime, shoot from distance and see what we can do. We’ve got three or four who can hit the ball pretty hard for a good range.”

Only one team has ever found the net against the Lady Falcons in this tournament and that was Sacred Heart in the championship game two years ago. Wakefield didn’t get many chances, but when the Lady Jackets’ Raygan White tested her with 10:30 to play, the keeper came off her line, stretched out to her right and batted the shot away. 

“She’s good for one of those a game at least,” Jenkins said. “You can count on her every game. She doesn’t see a lot of shots because our defense is also good, but she is ready every time she steps up.”

Donoho 2, Oxford 0
Oxford                   0   0   –   0

Donoho                  1   1   –   2
First half: 1. Tosin Sanusi, Donoho, 25:25 left.
Second half: 2. Erin Turley, Donoho, 32:54 left.

All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player: Erin Turley, Donoho
Offensive Player of the Year: Tosin Sanusi, Donoho
Defensive Player of the Year: Sawyer Brooks, Oxford

All-Tournament Team
Bailey Phillips, Faith Christian
Daniela Escandon, Saks
Ximena Chaves, Weaver
Shanece Appling, Weaver
Sawyer Brooks, Oxford
Diona Ulmer, Oxford
Hannah Grace Robbins, Oxford
Maggie Miller, Donoho
Maggie Wakefield, Donoho
Rory Parks, Donoho
Cathleen Seals, Donoho
Amanda Cunigan, Jacksonville
Vilma Rios, Jacksonville

Donoho freshman Erin Turley (L) was MVP for the second straight year of the tournament. She said this one was “pretty special” because “a lot of my close friends I grew up playing with are on that Oxford team, so it was like a hard fight.” (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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