On October 15, the Oxford men’s soccer team took on regular-season rival Georgia Military College Reserve, looking to secure a spot in the playoffs. Coming into the game, they had lost to the Georgia Military team three times, and because of Georgia Military’s team D1 status and roster, this would be one of their toughest and most important games of the season. The Eagles kept the game within reach during the first half. The back-and-forth between the teams led to frequent stalemates, though Georgia Military team blew through coverage and scored a couple early goals. Oxford rebounded before the half ended with a goal from Oliver Xu, and the Eagles went into the break trailing 1-3. During the second half, a few missed shots and an offside call hindered Oxford’s offensive output, and they fell behind as Georgia Military’s offense hit full stride. The final score was 1-7, a defeat that ended a notable regular season.
Even though the Oxford team lost, the turnout to the game still exceeded expectations. The bleachers were lined with cheering students, the atmosphere intense but supportive. A few chants started up for individual soccer players, with many yelling additional words of support to the Oxford team. Though the team began to fall behind, spectators remained enthusiastic until the final whistle.
Even though the season is over, the soccer team has good reasons to keep their heads up high. They ended with a record of 4-7-1, Erich Mildner set the single-season assists record (11), and Park Ngyuen, a former Oxford soccer captain, came back as an assistant coach.
Looking back on the season, freshman defender Will Ball said, “we were optimistic about the season, but there were some close games we should have won.” The Eagles had some notable games, defeating Northwest Mississippi, beating USC Union twice, a notching a comeback draw against All-In-FC. Watching a few of the games myself, the Eagles’ tenacity is undeniable. Their match against Meridian is a prime example; following the game, head coach Gregory Moss-Brown noted that “the boys played their hearts out tonight.”
There were always supporters in the stands for home games. In their last game against Georgia Military College, fans’ raucous cheers disoriented the scoreboard operator, and just for a little while, the Eagles had an undeserved goal on the board.
Will Ball also noted the sense of community among players: “It really feels like a family, definitely made my freshman year easier.” That camaraderie shows when the players all sport their bright blue polo shirts; they are a family. If you’re not convinced, just yell out “Will Ball” on campus, you are sure to get a response.