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Oxford girls win as Chargers soccer splits with Starkville

The opening salvo to the Oxford High girls soccer team’s state title defense has been loud and clear in the young season. It continued on Monday afternoon.

The Chargers picked up their sixth straight win to open the season, defeating Starkville 5-0 in a dominant performance at Bobby Holcomb Field.

Oxford (6-0) used offense to play defense, keeping the ball on Starkville’s side of the field the majority of the game. Starkville created some offense, but it was few and far between as the Chargers proved too much.

“We like our offense to have the ball, and we like our defense to kind of sit back there and enjoy the game,” Oxford head coach Hunter Crane said.

Ally Shinall got the offense going for Oxford, scoring in the seventh minute for the quick 1-0 lead. Freshman standout Morgan O’Connor followed with a goal of her own in the 29th minute for the 2-0 halftime lead. O’Connor added two more in the 55th and 74th minutes while Katelyn Rock chipped one in during the 75th minute for the winning margin.

This was the fourth shutout of the season as the defense has kept Caledonia, Center Hill, Olive Branch and Starkville off the board. On the other side of the coin, Oxford has outscored their opponents 33-2 through six games.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Crane said. “Our team’s really good right now. It’s hard to be upset about being undefeated and giving up two goals. … I have the thought that this team can be great.”

Oxford will take a break for Thanksgiving and return to action on Dec. 1 when they travel to West Point for their first Region 2-5A match of the season.

Boys fall late
It is a new season for Oxford High boys soccer with a new coach in Charles Sabatier, replacing Jonathan Branch who left after last season and now coaches at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.

Through the team’s first six games, Sabatier feels good about his team, but the results have been mixed on the field and it was more of that on Monday afternoon. The game was looking to end much like Oxford’s match with Tupelo last week with the Golden Wave escaping with the win in penalty kicks after a 0-0 score after regulation.

Starkville had other ideas as they found the back of the net in the 79th minute of play to give the Yellowjackets (3-1) the 1-0 victory over Oxford (4-2).

“We’ve played really well,” Sabatier said. “We played Tupelo last week 0-0 and was really happy. The team stepped up and played. Today we didn’t play our best soccer. We had lots of chances knocking on the goal, but the team didn’t play as well as they’ve been playing.”

Early in the first half, Oxford controlled things, putting pressure against Starkville’s defense but unable to find the back of the net. After a scoreless tie at halftime, the Chargers kept the pressure up in the second half, getting even more shots on goal with the best chance coming from Cole Calhoon in front of the goal, but the kick went right past the left post. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Starkville broke through for the winning shot.

“It’s that moment of the season where the team has to start coming together,” Sabatier said. “I’m still figuring things out. Still learning more about the players. I mean, this team has a lot of potential. I get chill bumps when I think about what they could do, but we have days like this where things sort of fall apart.”