What?: 2nd Round of the MHSAA 5A Boys Soccer Playoffs
Where?: Center Hill High School Soccer Field (Directions? Go to the bottom of this article for directions.)
When?: Saturday, January 26th, 2013 @ 6:00 PM
How can you keep up?: OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Play-by-Play via the iScore Soccer app website @ soccer.iscorecast.com and enter the ID# 381C41C346 and then find "(Boys) Oxford / Center Hill" game. (A link will be tweeted at game time).
The lowdown: Yes, I am in fact doing a soccer pregame. The Oxford Chargers and the Center Hill Mustangs will meet for the 2nd Round of the 5A playoffs. Oxford reached this point by defeating Neshoba Central at home 3-1. Center Hill went all the way down to Ridgeland and came away with a 4-2 victory to set up this game. Center Hill is hosting due to them not hosting last round and Oxford hosted last round.
Oxford and Center Hill met in Oxford's second game and Center Hill's third game of the season in their "Classic Games Tri-Match" to start the year back in November that included Southaven. The game was 2 30-minute halves instead of the normal 40-minute halves to allow all the games to be played that day. The game ended in a 0-0 tie (and accounts for Center Hill's one tie in their record). Oxford almost won 1-0 but an OHS forward was called offside way back at midfield and was not called until after the goal was made. Oxford also played without 3 starters - 2 midfielders and a wing defender - and a rotation sub in that match. Both teams are far different now than the first meeting between the two.
Twitter-verse has already made a storm out of this one from both sides, which included calling other student's (but not the actual soccer player's) numbers - it is time it got settled on the field.
For Oxford to win, they must: Play for 80 minutes - Even without the 4 players that missed this game at the start of the year, Oxford out-shot Center Hill 10-5 (OHS had 2 shots on Goal as well) and had a goal taken away by an offside call 30 seconds before the goal happened. The call was made after the fact when the Center Referee found his Assistant Referee was not near the Corner Flag and was near midfield.
Don't let them hang around - Oxford on Tuesday got out to a 3-0 lead and tried to cruise it on out but allowed a goal on the 72nd minute to allow the Rockets to emotionally get back into the game. Oxford did not play for the past week and showed some rust in the first half before scoring the 3 goals pretty quickly.
For Center Hill to win, they must: Keep Possession - the Mustangs can't allow this potent offense to run wild on their side of the field all night or one will get through. They need to buy time and get into the game a little bit and score when the opportunity arises and play at their pace - if Oxford is able to "run and gun" it all night, it will be a long night.
Capitalize on Opportunities - I eluded to this in the previous key; when it is on Oxford's end they need to put it away. The Mustangs took just 5 shots (0 on Goal) in 60 minutes (1 shot per 12 minutes) last time out against a less-than average OHS starting lineup.
Key for both teams: Score first:
If Center Hill scores first playing their style of soccer, Oxford will be on their heels all night to not just to catch up but prevent another goal from happening - although Oxford has come back before and won, this is the playoffs and one loss ends the season. Neither team can really afford to get behind early.
If Oxford scores first, they will be in a comfort zone front-running this game. Center Hill cannot afford to get behind the scoreboard early. If Oxford scores, they can't allow "1 to become 2" like it has happened several times this year for Oxford - including last Tuesday against Neshoba Central.
Other Notes: If Oxford wins, they will host North Half against the winner of Starkville and Hernando on Tuesday Night. If Center Hill wins and Starkville wins, Center Hill will host North Half. If Hernando wins, Center Hill will travel to Hernando for an all-Desoto County showdown for the right to go to Clinton.
Directions to Center Hill High School Soccer Field: From Oxford High School, take North Miss-7 toward Holly Springs for 27 miles. Turn left onto US-78 West toward Memphis for 24 Miles. Take Exit 6 and turn right onto Hacks Cross Road for 2-1/3 Miles. Turn right onto Miss-302 East for 3 Miles. Turn left onto Center Hill Road for 1 mile. Turn left onto Desoto Road which will take a sharp right and turn into Mustang Road after 2/3 miles for 1-1/2 Miles. Enter into the parking lot after passing the Soccer Field and the Tennis Courts.