They got to this point on doing things that other teams have done to put Oxford out in the past - not complaining about calls, not getting frustrated, not getting banged around physically, not overplaying the situation, and not looking ahead to any opponent.
I find it humorous to be on the other side of these games when the things you rant about in your head are happening to the opponents. As many people know, I referee youth soccer games (around the ages from 7-15) around the state of Mississippi, in Memphis, and recreational in Oxford. The past three games were refereed very well and those that did them are physically fit to do the job correctly. In two of the three crews, they work the games that I do as well in working the youth tournaments, one is coming up in Starkville this weekend that I will do and will be refereeing with some of the same players that I just saw go down in defeat - and I plan on being a soccer referee next soccer season for the MHSAA.
After the Starkville game tonight, I walked over to the OHS Gym to watch the rest of the Saltillo/Oxford Boys Basketball game. On my way there, a Starkville player going to his car with his parents was ranting on about getting fouled, not getting it called, getting called for a foul 5 seconds later and saying the game was "one-sided."
Funny how one would say that. The official foul tally I had down in my stats for the game was Oxford had 18 fouls called against Starkville's 9. In the game against Center Hill, Oxford had a 17-13 foul edge. Against Neshoba Central, that edge was 16-5.
Oxford had 51 fouls called against 27 for all three opponents combined in the playoffs. That's usually a stat that goes against a team, not for it. Oxford also has had 4 Yellow Cards issued for hard fouls in the playoffs against 2 - both against Starkville tonight.
What those stats means is that Oxford has been physical in each playoff game. That is usually what has cost Oxford in the past is that the other team has been physical. Oxford has been bumped out of the playoffs each time the opponent has been more physical, like last year against Starkville.
The physically-able Chargers have been very aggressive, played around the ball, and have been able to out-shot each opponent because of a solid defense that does not allow the ball to get shot by being physical. Do they foul? Yes. Usually tactically. Does it always get called? Not necessarily - and the times the referee does see the foul, "Advantage" is being applied, meaning in the referee's opinion that foul did not affect the attacker and would be better off playing the ball than stopping play for a free kick.
Back to my Yellowjacket player for his 'one-sided' comment. These were some of the better called games I have seen this year - really any year - and Oxford was whistled for twice as many fouls than Starkville. I agreed to about most of the calls made. There were 2 fouls Starkville tried to cheap-shot Oxford at and got caught. Starkville saw Oxford use their own game-plan they used in the playoffs last year go against them - and they didn't like their own medicine. Oxford was the more aggressive team and made things happen - Starkville did not do that. Oxford wanted the 50-50 balls, Oxford wanted to beat Starkville to the punch, Oxford was the team moving around causing havoc. Starkville looked shocked, lost, and complained for much of the match - especially after they went down 3-0 in the first half. Oxford looked like the more composed, hungry team tonight and outplayed Starkville. They outplayed Center Hill the same way, and outplayed Neshoba Central in the first round the same way.
I don't need to hear "the refs cost us the game." That is an old excuse and it is not why those teams lost, especially when Oxford committed 65% of those calls. Oxford in its three games was clearly the better team, was more aggressive, and wanted it more.
And they will take that same aggression against Pearl Saturday Night - a team that has done the very same thing every year.