CLINTON — With the exception of the jubilation that prematurely spilled onto the turf in the final 30 seconds, the Oxford Chargers’ soccer team stayed cool, calm and collected in their first MHSAA Class 5A State Championship appearance Saturday.
The been-there-before mentality paid off as the Chargers used two first half goals to up-end Pearl 2-0 at Clinton High School.
“Pearl is an eight-time state champion and has an awesome program but tonight was our night,” Oxford head coach Jamie Perkins said. “We’ve never been here. What can I say? We have this great group of eight seniors; I’ve been with them for four years and they wanted it bad.”
Hunter Stewart put Oxford (17-3-3 overall) ahead 1-0 in the 29th minute when the senior striker crashed the back post and booted a headed ball from Courtland Barnes out of the air and past the Pearl keeper.
With time running out in the first half, Edward Terry pushed the Chargers’ lead to 2-0 when he dropped a free kick from 30 yards out over the Pirates’ three-man wall and past the keeper.
Almost from the opening kickoff the game was a physical one for both sides. In the first half alone, there were 24 whistles with 18 going against the Pirates (14-8).
With seconds remaining in the game, the head referee blew his whistle to card Pearl. The Chargers along the sideline, nearly bursting with excitement, couldn’t remain composed anymore and raced onto the field prematurely. After trying to clear the field for a few moments, the referee called the game.
“The boys have been waiting for this for a long time. We’ve never gotten this far at Oxford and the boys deserve it,” Oxford assistant coach Mike Melton said. “They were happy and full of energy like they should be.”
On their road to Clinton, the Chargers defeated Neshoba Central 3-1, Center Hill 1-0 and Starkville 3-1.
Below is a post-game interview with Terry:
For more from Saturday’s MHSAA Class 5A State Championship game, pick up a copy of Monday’s Oxford EAGLE. (February 3, 2013)