E.A. Sports Today

Crook Invitational

Big save by Goad, goals from Downey and Johnson lift Donoho to victory over Oxford for de facto Calhoun County championship

Donoho’s Bruce Downey (27), Trey Alexander (9) and Logan Melton celebrate during their 2-1 victory over Oxford in Saturday’s Isaac Crook Invitational final on Oxford’s Lamar Field. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.com)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — On a night when Donoho’s boys devoted themselves to stopping Oxford striker Tristen Koontz, the biggest play belonged to the keeper who made the most spectacular play for the cause.

Richard Goad hit the turf and stopped Koontz’s point-blank shot with 21 minutes left in the second half, and that stop made a difference as Donoho beat Oxford 2-1 in Saturday’s final of the Isaac Crook Invitational on Oxford’s Lamar Field.

Victory in the de facto Calhoun County tournament kept Donoho atop the county scene for boys’ soccer a year after they won the last official county tournament.

There is no official county tournament for boys soccer this season. Faith Christian and Saks did not field boys’ teams, so there weren’t enough teams to have a county tournament. Donoho organized the Crook Invitational for the remaining five teams and named it for Crook, the former Weaver player who died in December of 2020.

“We took this as a county tournament since we didn’t have a guys county tournament this year, and we’re number one,” said Bruce Downey, who scored one of Donoho’s two goals.

Donoho’s Bruce Downey and Oxford’s Ray Barrera battle for ball during Saturday’s Isaac Crook Invitational final. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.com)

Donoho’s 2022 county championship was its first in boys’ soccer since the inaugural county tournament, in 2017. Oxford won county titles in boys’ soccer in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

There was no county tournament in 2020 because of COVID-19.

“Oxford is a great team we played against,” Donoho coach Tim Melton said. “It’s one of our big rivals, even though we’re a little 1A school. We fight and scrap as a 1A school.

“They’re graduating as many as we have in our whole school, but these guys have looked forward to this game forever, and our guys are just scrappy. They figure out a way to put it in the goal. It may not always be the prettiest goal, but it gets in the back of the net”

Donoho got on the board first with Sam Johnson’s rebound goal at 8:25 of the first half. He tapped in the rebound from a Downey shot.

“Bruce had an amazing shot, and it came across and ricocheted off of some guys,” Johnson said. “I had a chance to volley it in for a goal.”

Downey returned the favor at 9:04 of the second half, with a rebound shot off of a ball Johnson crossed.

“Sam played it across, and the goalie missed it, and I tapped it in for the goal,” Downey said.

The rest of Donoho’s winning formula centered on stopping Koontz. Cameron Jordan marked him end line to end line, and fullback Trey Alexander brought his considerable size to bear on the back end.

“They just stayed on me 24/7, playing dirty a little bit,” Koontz said. “I tried not to let it get into my head, but sometimes it’s just hard.”

Koontz played with an ankle injury he sustained in Friday’s semifinal against White Plains. He also cramped up late in the second half and came out of the action briefly.

He returned to blast a shot from the right post and into the left corner of the goal to bring Oxford within 2-1 with 2:58 left, but that goal that wasn’t proved to be a difference maker.

Koontz broke from the crossed into the goalie box from the left side, separated, turned and fired with Goad running at him. Goad got on the turn and stopped the shot at point-blank range.

“I knew I had to dive for the ball,” he said.

Donoho keeper Richard Goad watches as fullback Trey Alexander kicks a ball out of the goalie box in Saturday’s Isaac Crook Invitational final. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.com)

Goad is a second-year soccer player, and Melton credited Goad’s instincts honed from American football and basketball.

“It’s the hand-eye coordinator to just be able to react to what’s happening,” he said. “A true athlete understands what’s about to happen and anticipates what’s going to happen, and he anticipates for sure.”

Oxford mounted a flurry of opportunities in the final two minutes. At earlier points in the match, the Yellow Jackets had three shots miss just outside the left post.

“It was intense,” Oxford coach Haili Clark said. “It was a fight from the start to the end. … We just couldn’t find the net.

“They just kept fighting. They just didn’t want to lose, and they just put everything they had out there, and the shots just didn’t fall their way.”

Oxford’s Tristen Koontz is helped off of the field alongside Oxford coach Haili Clark after cramping in the second half. He scored Oxford’s goal and had several near-misses in a 2-1 loss to Donoho in the Isaac Crook Invitational final. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.com)

Isaac Crook Invitational

Jacksonville 8, Weaver 0
Oxford High School
Donoho 3, Jacksonville 1
Oxford 3, White Plains 1
Oxford High School
Donoho 2, Oxford 1

2023 Girls’ Calhoun County tournament


No. 4 Jacksonville 3, No. 5 Weaver 1
No. 3 Saks 3, No. 6 Faith Christian 0
No. 2 Donoho 10, No. 7 White Plains 0
No. 1 Oxford 3, Jacksonville 0
Donoho 2, Saks 1
Donoho 3, Oxford 0

Cover photo: Donoho celebrates after winning the Isaac Crook Invitational on Saturday, after beating Oxford 2-1 in the final at Oxford High School. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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