According to the stat sheet, Oak Grove soundly defeated West Harrison Tuesday night in a non-region girls soccer match.
But when the final whistle sounded, it was the visiting Lady Hurricanes who did the most celebrating after playing the Lady Warriors to a 0-0 draw at Warrior Field.
“That’s the one positive thing about it,” said Oak Grove coach Clay Smith. “You hate a tie, but it’s not a loss.”
For Oak Grove (10-1-1), it was a chance to wash away the sting of an overtime loss Friday night at Region 5-6A rival Brandon, while preparing for this Friday’s 2014 finale against Petal.
“The first half, we struggled, but the second half we created so many chances – I think our keeper touched it twice,” Smith said. “But we just couldn’t get the ball on the ground, get composed, get it settled and get it in the net.”
After an evenly-played first half, the Lady Warriors started the second half determined to push the pace. Just two minutes into the half, Oak Grove junior Taylor Brabson sent a free kick on goal that was kicked out of harm’s way by the defense.
That set the tone for the next sequence, a flurry of four shots, two on goal, in front of the West Harrison net that ended with Lady Hurricanes goal-keeper Haley Lott on the ground cradling the ball just inches from the goal line.
“It was really crowded, and we weren’t getting the ball in and out as we liked,” said Lady Warriors junior forward Lauren Taylor Massey. “That’s how you have to beat teams, just playing together. There’s a lot of communication involved.”
Indeed, Oak Grove finished the game with 20 shots, 11 on goal, while West Harrison had just eight shots, four on goal.
But the Lady Hurricanes employed an effective defense, by packing their end of the field with four fullbacks, cutting off the passing lanes for the Lady Warriors.
“They were proud enough with the tie,” said Massey. “It was a tough game; it was frustrating. We had a lot of trouble in the middle getting good shots.”
West Harrison (8-2-2) was content offensively to wait for opportunities to counterattack, hoping to catch the Lady Warriors pushing forward.
However, the Oak Grove back line, led by senior Madison Johns and junior Lauren Pitts, was able to thwart that strategy.
“When they kick it over, you just have to have someone drop back and be there so they don’t have any through-balls,” said Johns. “We have some fast people on this team, so we like to play them up.”
Oak Grove now turns its attention to Petal, which comes into Warrior Field for a 4 p.m. Friday kickoff. At 1-1 in region, Smith wants his team to head into the holiday break on a positive not.
“That’s a big game for us,” said Smith. “We need that to stay in second in the region midway through region play, so we can come into January where we’re in the driver’s seat as far as controlling our own destiny for the playoffs.”