Warriors, Lady Warriors handle business at PetalBy CAMAL PETRO,
PETAL – The Oak Grove soccer program is rolling right along through the 2017-18 season, and Friday at Petal was another example of its dominance.
The Lady Warriors opened the night with an easy 7-1 win over their rival, then the Warriors capped it off with a 4-0 shutout.
Warriors’ coach Jesse Lang wanted his team to keep their composure better Friday unlike in Tuesday’s 1-0 overtime win over Meridian.
“The Meridian game, we had a couple (players) lose their cool,” he said. “We talked and worked on that as well. Keeping our composure instead of running our mouth because they were pretty physical with us, roughing us up and pulling on jerseys.”
After nearly 20 minutes of even play between the two teams, Oak Grove’s Clay Derrick finally got the attack going with the game’s first goal. The Petal keeper, junior Jacob Russell, saved the first strike off Adam Stone’s foot, but Derrick was there for the finish.
“We kept telling them to try and get our mid(fielders) to shoot a little more, and everybody crashed because the keeper was knocking them down and not catching them,” Oak Grove coach Jesse Lang said. “Finally we got one like that.”
Oak Grove went into the half with the 1-0 lead, and after a few early opportunities in the second half, it broke open the game with three second-half goals.
Twice the Petal defense prevented Oak Grove goals off set plays. On a corner kick in the 44th minute, Russell made a save then an Oak Grove attacker tried to score the rebound but a Panthers’ defender was there to prevent it. The same thing happened three minutes later off a free kick.
In the 48th minute, however, junior Conner Trussell scored on a header after Kyren Seymour sent the corner kick into the box. That gave Oak Grove a 2-0 lead.
“We kept putting our corners in range of that keeper,” Lang said. “He’s a big kid who can come out and get it. We kept telling them to move it out and we finally got one out in space and got a head on it.”
Stone got in on the scoring in the 59th minute, as he found himself wide open with the ball inside the box. He fired it home for an easy goal to push the lead to 3-0. The scoring ended in the 67th minute when sophomore Elian Fajardo scored on a wide goal.
With the ball on the left side, he lifted the ball up into the box on what looked like a simple cross. The ball sailed over the out-stretched hands of Russell and hit the right netting to make it 4-0.
“We’ve been telling (Fajardo) for a couple of weeks, ‘People are going to start roughing you up, they’re going to start man-marking you and you have to be mentally ready to handle that,’ and he didn’t handle it very well,” Lang said. “I think he was trying to cross to (Stone), who was making a run, but the keeper missed it and it hit that edge. A beautiful cross that ended up scoring.”
Lady Warriors 7, Petal 1: Believe it or not, Oak Grove senior Lonnie Mulligan has recorded a hat trick in less than 10 minutes before. In fact, it happened three days ago against Meridian. She scored three goals in five minutes then but needed nine minutes to score the three Friday at Petal.
The Lady Warriors cruised to a 7-1 win against their rival to move their overall record to 9-1-1 and 2-0 in region play.
Mulligan, an Ole Miss commit, got the game started quickly with her three quick goals. After tallying one shot on goal in the first minute, her second shot of the game looked wide left, but hit the post and ricocheted in for the 1-0 lead.
“When you play against good keepers, those are the type of goals I have to practice often,” Mulligan said. “Practice makes it perfect. (The shot) wasn’t (perfect), but I’m just saying.”
Just a five minutes later, she dribbled into the box without any difficulty, then finished easily to put Oak Grove up 2-0 early. Her most impressive goal came two minutes later when she scored on a shot from outside the 18-yard box. The shot came from the left side, and the bending shot found the right side of the net to give her the hat trick.
“Their field has a dip and it kind of goes down on the side,” she said. “It’s a little hard to place it in the 6(-yard box) to let my teammates get it, so I just thought I’d try to just bend it back post.”
Sophomore Jordan Smith put the Lady Warriors up 4-0 in the 33rd minute, collecting a loose ball inside the 18 then drilling it home. Oak Grove’s fifth goal came off Mulligan’s foot, too, when she sent a corner kick inside the box and a Petal defender failed to clear it. The goal counted for Mulligan, bring her total to four goals in the match.
Oak Grove sophomore Rebekah Baugh and eighth-grader Kayla Herring added goals in the second half to push the lead to 7-0. In the 65th minute, Petal’s Kinsey Bellinger scored on an impressive free kick from 30-plus yards out to bring the game to its final.
The Lady Warriors dominated the possession and spent most of the night on Petal’s half the field. Oak Grove outshot Petal 28-2 and 14-2 on shots on goal.
“We work hard every single day. Starters or non-starters, we’re one team,” Mulligan said. “We’re all trying to work hard so everyone on the team is ready for all 80 minutes. We’re always ready to go no matter who’s on the field.”