The Ouachita girls soccer team recorded its first-ever playoff victory Wednesday night when the No. 7 Lady Lions edged the No. 10 West Ouachita Lady Chiefs, 2-1, in the second round of the Division II playoffs.
The victory sets up a Monday matchup against No. 2 Neville with the time yet to be determined, and because Wednesday night’s victory set up a matchup with last year’s Division II semifinalist, Ouachita head coach Sam Jones refuses to stop and smell the roses.
“It’s hard for me to revel in these things,” Jones said. “I like to look ahead. We’re definitely sky-high right now, and I’m super proud of the team, but we’ve never beaten Neville. And we’ll be the underdogs Monday.”
In order to even have a chance to play against the Lady Tigers, Ouachita had to get by a West Ouachita team the Lady Lions had previously beaten only once under Jones. The Lady Chiefs and Lady Lions tied earlier this season, and having to play in inclement weather, meant every play was going to have to count for Jones and the Lady Lions to record their first playoff victory.
“Those elements do change the way you play,” Jones said. “For our girls, it’s definitely a mindset thing. I think that’s the best we’ve ever played in the rain. It’s about desire and heart. That’s the stuff that carried us.”
Olivia Buckhalter scored both goals for Ouachita in the victory. Buckhalter has more than 35 goals this season and also leads the team in assists with 17. Buckhalter was second on the team in goals a season ago, and with leading-scorer Sara Stacy transferring to St. Frederick, Buckhalter took her game to another level.
“It would be an embarrassment if she’s not First Team All-State,” Jones said. “The numbers she’s put up. She’s so unselfish too. When we lost Sara, I think the team really rallied after that because it’s tough to lose your leading scorer.”
Ouachita has complied a 19-4-2 record and will look for the biggest upset of the season against (18-4-2) Neville Monday night.