HATTIESBURG – Oak Grove and George County played a pair of intense region matches Tuesday night, but unfortunately, the Oak Grove sweep isn’t the only news to come out of the night.
While the Lady Warriors earned a 2-1 win and the Warriors won 3-2 in the final two minutes, two Oak Grove boys left the game with injuries. Of course, injuries in an Oak Grove-George County game is nothing new, as the Warriors lost their goalkeeper in the playoff game last year against the Rebels.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos from the boys' contest
PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos from the Lady Warriors' game
On Tuesday, junior Hayden Mills went down after a collision, and he’ll enter concussion protocol, but the more serious injury was to senior Finn Mattocks with a leg injury that caused a 45-minute delay to the game so an ambulance could be called and attention could be given. As Mills was being walked off the field to be looked at inside, Mattocks collided with a George County defender, causing the injury.
Oak Grove coach Jesse Lang said his team didn’t recover last year, but the Warriors refocused to get the win Tuesday.
“It killed us last year,” he said. “We did not recover and we never got back into where we could play. Tonight, they stepped back up and played.”
To top it all off, Oak Grove had two starters out with the flu.
The injury timeout happened just eight minutes into the contest, then once play resumed, George County got on the board first in the 17th minute. Oak Grove, however, woke up quickly to score a goal one minute later.
Senior Adam Stone juked a George County defender, then finished to the keeper’s left side for an easy goal to tie the game 1-1.
“We’ve talked about that since last year,” Lang said. “It was a horrible thing that happened, but the game still had time left. There were eight minutes gone, that was it. We had the majority of the game left, so we had to step back in and play.”
Oak Grove took a 2-1 lead into halftime when sophomore Elian Fajardo finished inside the box after a corner kick during stoppage time. That would be a preview of what was to come in the second half.
Playing from behind, George County found a game-tying goal in the 64th minute, but Oak Grove still had some heroics left. In the final two minutes off a free kick form 34 yards out, sophomore Logan Stone sent the ball into the box where it took a good bounce. From there, junior Conner Trussell put his head on it and it floated past the keeper for the game-winning goal.
Lady Warriors 2, George County 1: The Lady Warriors began the night with a nail-biting 2-1 win over George County, as Rebekah Baugh scored the go-ahead goal in the 76th minute and Oak Grove held on for the win.
“They’re very well-coached,” Lady Warriors’ coach Clay Smith said. “They had a specific game plan and they hustled. They want to out-hustle you.”
Baugh’s goal came after Maggie Starns sent a corner kick into the box, and Baugh finished the score off her knee with the ball loose inside the box.
“I told (the players) at the end that I was really proud they didn’t give up on it,” Smith said. “We’ve been practicing not giving up on the ball when it’s still in play. Be hungry to go make something happen, and that’s what happened.”
Senior Lonnie Mulligan began the night with a goal in the 14th minute, her 22nd goal of the season, and that came after the Lady Rebels possessed the ball on Oak Grove’s defensive side of the field for most of the early going.
Smith said he kept telling his girls the right side was open, and Starns sent a perfect through from the right side to Baugh, then she found a wide-open Mulligan to her right inside the box. Mulligan finished it off the keeper to take a 1-0 lead.
“On our right side, it was just open the whole time,” Smith said. “We finally got the switch and got Lonnie in space, and we were able to capitalize on it.”
George County scored the equalizer in the 68th minute, and that was moments after two good scoring opportunities for the Lady Rebels. They had two shots on goal in the 64th and 65th minute, sophomore Brooke Tanner fought off an Oak Grove defender and found the back of the net.
“They’re very strong physically,” Smith said. “They’ve always been that way.”
Both the Lady Warriors (11-1-1) and Warriors (9-1-3) are now 3-0 in region play, and the George County squads fall to 2-1. Both teams will play each region team one more time with three straight games to close out the season in January.