What?: North Half Round of the MHSAA 5A Boys Soccer Playoffs
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field @ OHS
When?: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 @ 6:00 PM
How can you keep up?: OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Channel 97 Friday Night at 6PM, on the MHSAA website at this link, Play-by-Play via the iScore Soccer app website @ soccer.iscorecast.com and enter the ID# 381C41C346 and then find "Starkville / (Boys) Oxford" game. (A link will be tweeted at game time).
The lowdown: The 2nd Round playoff match between Oxford & Starkville last year may as well have been the Championship game - Oxford is the last 5A team to beat them - it came in the regular season however. Oxford had their season end by the Yellowjackets on their very own field by a score of 4-2. The score was closer than the 2 goal margin as a put-away goal on an errant goal kick was made in the last minute of the game by Starkville.
A sense of revenge has to be in the minds of the Chargers. They lost then-Senior Lucian DuChaine to a torn ACL by the very same Starkville team during the regular season that ultimately had an effect in their playoff game. Starkville proceeded to win the 5A State Championship.
The vast majority of that lineup returns for the Chargers for the right to go to Clinton for the first time in school history - and for the first time, they have the chance to do it on their home field. They've had at least two other North Half appearances but those were on the road.
If the Chargers needed any more motivation, the Pascagoula Boys Soccer Coach William Denton - who's team is on the South Half of the Bracket facing Pearl on Saturday - has already written the Chargers off:
From the Sun Herald Newspaper on January 21st:
"I know Picayune is strong in the south and so is Pearl, those are the two teams that will be solid in the south as well as us. From what I've seen in the north, it's just Starkville. They should walk straight to the state championship game."
Starkville is a team that has only given up 6 goals all year. They average just 0.35 goals allowed per game (they've played 18 matches but one was won by forfeit). Oxford is going to have to make that at least 7 if they are to make their first trip to Clinton.
For Oxford to win, they must: Play Shutdown Defense - Goalkeeper Henry Webb needs to have his best game. Based on Starkville's defense, he needs to match it minimum and his defensive line in-front of him led by Wes Snellgrove, William Mayo, and senior Dylan Reithel and company needs to be top notch and keep Oxford in the game. Oxford's offense is likely going to have a hard time scoring.
Don't waste opportunities - Oxford needs to put goals away when the chance is there, very likely Oxford will not have many chances to score. Baxter Elliott, the Stewarts and company need to work well together and find a way to get by the Starkville defense and their keeper.
Be Physical - Last year, Starkville pushed them around and made tactical fouls to get them out of rhythm. If Oxford can play their game and get them out of rhythm that they have been all season, the chances will be there.
For Starkville to win, they must: Withstand the Early Assault - Oxford wants this bad and like to front-run this game, Starkville cannot come off the bus loopy. If their defense can withstand the early offensive attacks and get into the flow of this game, they stand a good chance for repeating.
Young ones cannot succumb to the pressure - 8 Seniors graduated from this squad a year ago, 7 of which were starters. There is no doubt the pressure of the playoffs to be this close to the Championship game is there. It is simple - ignore it and play your game that you have played all year long.
Defense wins Championships - They have 13 shutouts on the year and have yet to allow a goal so far in the playoffs. Obviously they want this to continue. The yellowjackets have a very solid defense that they have ridden on all year.
Weather: Mostly Cloudy and Warm, 69*F is the kickoff temp. Chance of rain 20% and increasing throughout the night. Very Windy with winds from the S at 15-25 MPH (winds are from the south which means the actual wind direction is going to the north - towards the scoreboard)
Other Notes: Oxford was defeated by Starkville last year by a score of 4-2. This is the first time in school history Oxford Boys Soccer has hosted North Half - Girls hosted North Half in 2009. With a win, it will be the first State Championship appearance by any Oxford Soccer team in school history.