Goals were flowing early at Oak Grove’s Warrior Field on Friday night. The scoring turned out to be one-sided, though, in favor of the home team, as both the Lady Warriors and Warriors picked up shutout wins over rival Petal.
Oak Grove Lady Warriors 6, Petal 0
Oak Grove coach Clay Smith knew the first few minutes of Friday’s match would be key.
“I told the girls we wanted to come out those first few minutes and set the tone and set the pace,” he said.
The Lady Warriors did just that, scoring twice off goals from Maggie Starns and Zylah Mulligan less than five minutes in.
“We were focused in the warmup, and we came out like we were shot out of a cannon,” Smith said.
Oak Grove tacked on four more goals in the first half alone to push their lead to 6-0. Amy Nyary and Claudia Mattocks joined the scoring action, and also, to Smith’s liking, Starns and Mulligan each found the back of the net again.
“That’s what we want. We want them to be creating the goals and finishing the goals. It was spot on.”
The Lady Warriors put the match on cruise control in the second half, improving to 4-2-1 with the victory.
“Right now I feel pretty good,” Smith said. “We had a tough loss against Brandon the other night, but the key is to peak when we get into district. We’re in district now and we’re playing well, so I’m very pleased. Even though we haven’t played a lot of games, we’re moving right along where we need to be.”
Petal fell to 7-4 with the loss.
Oak Grove Warriors 5, Petal 0
Like the Lady Warriors, Jesse Lang’s Warriors game-planned for a flurry of first half goals.
“We gave them a list of things we thought we could do to score goals and beat them [Petal], and we came out in the first half and did those things,” Lang said.
Seventeen minutes into the match, Hayden Mills found the back of the net to put Oak Grove up 1-0. Less than 10 minutes later, the Warriors were up 3-0 thanks to a pair of goals from Elean Fajardo, who leads the state in the category with 25.
The junior has already surpassed his season total from last year (24), which earned him Sports601 Hattiesburg Player of the Year honors.
“He’s not a secret anymore,” Lang said of Fajardo. “Everybody knows who he is. They know he’s left-footed, and they’re gonna try to take away his left foot. He’s done a better job moving and getting himself in position to get shots.”
With 12 minutes left in the first half, Conner Trussell extended Oak Grove’s lead to 4-0 with his third goal of the season. All four of the Warriors’ first half scores came within 11 minutes of each other.
“It helped that we got them quick,” Lang said. “When you go into somebody else’s place to play and get a goal put on you quick, that’s tough to overcome.”
Oak Grove scored once more in the opening minutes of the second half, as Clay Derrick converted on a penalty kick. The Warriors improved to 10-1-2 with the win.
Lang says the team is getting closer to where they wanna be at season’s end.
“You gotta have a lotta luck, and you gotta have pretty good team camaraderie. This team’s not as close yet as last year’s team was, but we’re working on it. The potential is there. It’s on the kids. If they want it bad enough and they keep working hard, it’s there.”
Petal fell to 8-3 with the loss.