What?: Semifinals of the 5A Girls Soccer Playoffs (North Half Championship)
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Wednesday, February 3rd at 6:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: @OxChargerSports on Twitter, Gene Phelps on Twitter
The Lowdown: Oxford has reached the North Half game for the fourth time in school history, however the Lady Chargers have never gotten past this round. Ridgeland was always the dominant powerhouse when it came to girls soccer. They have fallen back down to earth in the last few years. In fact, the team that beat them this year is this very Saltillo Lady Tiger team.
Somebody from 2-5A will be in the 5A Title match, Oxford has home-field advantage, but if anyone has watched the previous two meetings between Oxford and Saltillo, it means nothing.
Oxford lost 2-1 at home the last time these two teams met at Bobby Holcomb Field. However, the reason why Oxford has home field in the first place is because of a 2-0 win two weeks ago at Saltillo. The goal difference between the two schools is what allowed Oxford to play this game on their home field and not have to be on a bus to Saltillo's.
For the record, for the North Half Championship game, it is played at the higher-seeded team's field, it was not based on the number of home games played. That is only true for the second round of the playoffs. The hosting rules is the same as it was for football.
Saltillo has started to slip a bit defensively allowing five goals in their last six matches, of which three were to this Oxford team. They allowed seven in their first three before having a stretch of just allowing three goals over eight games. The thing that hinders Saltillo is their offensive output. 45 goals over 17 games, 2.65 goals a game, fewer than Germantown scored on average. I believe Germantown had a slightly tougher schedule as well (but that's to no fault of anybody).
This will be tougher not just because of how deep in the playoffs both teams are, but because these two teams know each other very well. First to two goals can certainly win this, but don't be surprised if this ends up being 1-0.
There is a trip to Madison on the line for both of these schools. Only one will make history tonight.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Maintain Possession - If Oxford keeps the ball, the chances will come with free kicks and open players. Oxford has scored 114 goals this season, they know how to score.
Don't Allow Saltillo Chances On Offense - Oxford allows fewer goals on average than Salltillo. Oxford has allowed 17 in 23 matches vs. the 15 in 17 matches. Containing their offense like they did last time in Saltillo can do a lot for the Lady Chargers.
For Saltillo to Win, They Must: Keep Oxford Out of Goal - They will have to win every one-on-one battle. Oxford got the lead (and kept it) on Germantown because Morgon O'Connor won her battle against the Germantown defense. There aren't many that can keep a clean sheet on Oxford this year. (Hint: No one has)
Don't Stay On Your End - Saltillo cannot allow Oxford to be on their defending end all night. Saltillo needs to string passes together and do something on offense.
Other Notes: If Oxford wins tonight, this will be their first trip to a State Title match in school history. O'Connor is two goals away from breaking the school record for goals scored in a single season.