What?: 5A Girls Soccer State Title Match
Where?: Madison Central High School Football Field
When?: Saturday, February 6th at 4:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: @OxChargerSports on Twitter, John Davis on Twitter @oxfordcitizenjd, through the NFHS Network ($$ - must pay to watch)
The Lowdown: For the first time in school history, the Oxford Girls Soccer team have made it to the State Championship match.
This leaves just Softball has the only sport Oxford has that hasn't made it to a title game or series. Oxford is looking for their 58th State Title and the first one ever for Girls Soccer. This is the team that can certainly do it.
Oxford has scored 120 goals so far and haven't been shutout all season. In 22 matches this season, the West Harrison Lady 'Canes have allowed just 12, the best ratio in 5A. Four of those 12 have come against 6A Brandon who is 22-0 and ranked second in the nation. They have scored 63 themselves, however 18 came against two bad teams. They have been shutout five times offensively, of which two have gone to ties.
Of all the defensive teams Oxford has come across in the playoffs, this will (obviously) be the hardest to score on.
Of all the teams Oxford has faced as a defense, this might be the easiest to stop. 45 goals in the other 20 matches is a ratio of 2.25 goals a game, the second-worst ratio behind Vicksburg this team has faced in the playoffs.
West Harrison relies a lot on their defense to win games. This appears to be an opportunistic offense with a stone wall on the defensive side. Oxford threatens to score with several different players that have scored at least seven goals and three that are in double-figures. The Lady 'Canes have two players that score but not a lot after that.
Like Germantown before them, this team doesn't do that well against teams that can score AND defend. Their schedule wasn't all that great either. Only Brandon was the real competition. Even the team West Harrison beat to reach this game had a sub-.500 record.
Oxford's path to this game was definitely harder having to get past Germantown who had just one loss before their season ended, Saltillo who they faced three times and had lost to them their first meeting. During the regular season, they also faced Lafayette twice (at their place both times) and the team Lafayette had to beat to reach the 4A Title game Richland - also on the road. Lets not forget Northwest Rankin - ALSO on the road and also fought tooth and nail in the 6A North Half title match - and Oxford managed to even get a win.
To say the least, Oxford is better prepared for the 5A Title game than their opponent. Will the result of Saturday's match equal what it is on paper? Well, that is why they play the game. You can expect though Madison Central will be rocking with Oxford fans coming on down (maybe so when Football travels down there next year).
For Oxford to Win the Championship, They Must: Use Their Team Speed - Oxford has forwards that can outrun defenses. What has given other teams fits on defense is that speed. 120 goals is no accident. That stat is second in the state behind Lafayette's opponent West Lauderdale.
Continued Solid Defense - Oxford's defenders can intercept a lot of passes, so possession ball is important for West Harrison. If Oxford's defense is causing havoc, that allows Oxford to...
Create Many Offensive Opportunities - Oxford loves the counter attack. A good reason why Oxford has scored a lot is that they can flip the field in a heartbeat.
For West Harrison to Win the Championship, They Must: Ignore Every Damn Thing I Just Said - They earned their spot here even if the competition wasn't that great. Although I saw George County's Baseball team play and they dwarfed Oxford in that series. But seriously...
Win with Speed on Defense - Oxford likes to use their speed to their advantage, and that was how the Lady Chargers was able to (literally) run away from Saltillo Wednesday night.
Take Advantage of Opportunities - Oxford's defense is as good as anybody in 5A. With WH scoring just over two goals a game against inferior defenses, scoring may get hard for the Hurricanes.
Other Notes: Morgan O'Connor broke the school record for goals scored in a single season with 26 goals scored, breaking the 25 held by Virginia Terry. With a win, the only two non-meet sports Oxford is participating in that will not have won a Championship in would be Football and Fast-Pitch Softball.
Directions to Madison Central: Take either Highway 6/US-278 West towards Batesville or Highway 7 South towards Grenada. Take I-55 South towards Grenada/Jackson. Continue on I-55 South until reaching Exit 108. Turn right to Highway 463 North for 3/4 mile. Turn left onto Moss Rd. for 1/3 mile. Madison Central should be on the right.