Oak Grove soccer gears up for 2nd round of playoffs

Oak Grove soccer gears up for 2nd round of playoffs

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Oak Grove boys soccer coach Jesse Lang and girls soccer coach Clay Smith have shared the same soccer field for over a decade. The two coaches share the same February 5th birthday. And they share the same desire to be playing in the state championship on the weekend of February 5th.

"These girls, what's special about this team," Smith said. "I've coached a lot of different teams and these girls love to play soccer. They really love it. And right now they're playing well and I just hope it keeps going."

Entering his twenty-second season with Oak Grove, coach Smith didn't know what to expect with a young group. The Lady Warriors went 13-2 in the regular season, won region 3-6A and have a date with Ocean Springs in the second round of the playoffs.

"We had a meeting at the beginning of the year and coach Smith said, 'They might not worry about you now but at the end of the season, I promise they'll worry about you,'" said Oak Grove senior soccer player Grace Sanders. "And that's one thing about coach Smith, when he says something it usually always happens. And that's pretty much proven true with this team."

The boys team is coming off a 4-3 overtime win over Pearl, highlighted by sophomore Clay Derrick's go-ahead goal in the first two minutes of the extra period. The Warriors, who went 8-8-3 in the regular season, find themselves in a second-round matchup with George County.

"We told them if we'll focus and concentrate, and play aggressively like we do for 80 minutes, we can play with anybody," Lang said. "We've done it all year, even with Brandon and Ocean Springs. When we're mentally and physically into the game, we can stay with them."

Lang says the team's main goal was to make the playoffs. The Warriors have surpassed that thanks to a quickly maturing team and a little bit of blonde hair dye.

"We just decided going into the playoffs we're going to start this tradition in the years to come," Derrick said. "But no one's ever done this for playoffs so we decided to bleach our hair."

"It's confusing to me sometimes," Lang said. "I'm yelling names out of a blonde kid and it's one of the other ones out there now that has blonde hair."

As for the girls' team, their only playoff ritual is trying to win the next game.

"Not as a team," Sanders said. "I don't know if everyone would dye their hair right before prom."

The Lady Warriors face Ocean Springs on the road Saturday at 1 p.m. while the Warriors travel to George County to take on the Rebels at 6 p.m. on Saturday.