Oxford and Lafayette soccer prepared for state playoff run
OXFORD – The Oxford girls held a 3-2 lead going to halftime the first time they met Clinton, back in November. In the first minute of the second half, Morgan O’Connor picked up a red card on a hard slide tackle in the box. With O’Connor sidelined, playing a girl down, Oxford would tie Clinton 3-3, the only tie on Oxford’s near-perfect 17-1-1 record. Monday night, in the opening round of the state playoffs, Oxford will get their chance at redemption.
For Morgan O’Connor, Monday is not just a chance to get back up against Clinton, it’s the start of her final postseason run in a Charger uniform. Just a junior, O’Connor signed to play soccer at Ole Miss in November. She’ll graduate from Oxford a year early to enroll at Ole Miss, making this run her de-facto senior year.
“Just being with these girls is so much fun. High school soccer has been the fun part for me, club is a little more serious,” O’Connor said. “College will be more like a battle every single day. I’m nervous, not sure if I’d say I’m ready but I hope to get there by July. I’ll just miss being with this team.”
As a junior, O’Connor is one of the team captains for the Chargers this year. Oxford head coach Hunter Crane has been working with O’Connor since her eighth-grade season. To him, it’s how she’s grown, not just as a soccer player, but as a leader that makes him believe she’s ready for that jump.
“She’s never had to be a leader. But when you put that captain band on, it comes with a special sense of pride,” Crane said. “In the Clinton game, when she got the red card, she could’ve easily gone over to the bench and pouted about it. But she was up and down the sidelines like a coach. They really feed off of her. How she’s grown as a leader has been incredible.”
Going into the home match against Clinton Monday night, the Oxford girls will not have played a match in over a week. Crane says they’re simply excited to get back out there for the first round of the playoffs. His message to the team? “Just continue to be who we are.”
Oxford boys travel to Clinton
The Oxford boys finished the season at 15-5, going 4-2 in the division, good for second place. As the second-place team, they’ll have to go on the road Monday night for a game at 9-11-2 Clinton.
Oxford and Clinton played on the same November night as the girls, with Oxford winning handily by a 5-0 final score. The boys should feel good about where they are entering the playoffs, having lost just twice since Dec. 15 and outscoring opponents 32-4 over that stretch.
Lady Commodores excited to be back home on turf
Having just handily beaten the No. 1 seed in the 5A state playoffs on Thursday night, the Lafayette girls are confident. Sitting at 19-2, they will host Ridgeland on Monday night in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
“Just playing confident and playing possession soccer is where we’re at our best,” said head coach Melinda Scruggs. “Playing at home is nice. We’re definitely better on turf than we are on grass. Probably that’s just because we’re used to it. I do think that’ll be an advantage for the first round.”
The Lady Commodores are certainly a team to keep an eye on. Winners of nine of their last ten games to end the season, they are simply dominating teams. Over that 9-1 stretch, they’ve outscored opponents 51-4.
Lafayette boys travel to Germantown
Unlike the first three matchups mentioned, the Lafayette boys haven’t played against their first-round playoff matchup yet this year. The Commodores will travel Monday night to take on 11-4-2 Germantown.
The boys went on a run starting Dec. 17 going through Jan. 17 where they went undefeated, outscoring opponents 23-3 over that stretch. Since then, they’ve dropped two straight to Grenada and Lewisburg, something their coaches called a bit of a wakeup call.
“I just want to see them continue playing with the effort they have. Effort is never a problem, said head coach Gene Anderson. “I think we need to work on making some better passes and moving more off the ball.”
With a cold front moving in next week, games were already moved from Tuesday to the Monday times referred to above. However, all are subject to change leading up to gameday.
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