Varsity soccer draws rival Spartans in spectacular fashion


Dobbs Durkin prepares to take a free kick (photo by Russell Dearing)

Russell Dearing, Staff Writer

The Homewood-Mountain Brook soccer rivalry didn’t always have a such sting in it. However, both schools’ recent success as state champions has taken their matches against each other to the next level. 

Because of the matchup’s intensity, Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw between the two sides was anything but drab.

The past two 6A state champions clashed for the seventh time since they began to share the same region back in 2021, the last year Homewood won the title. 

Up to this point, they had the series tied 3-3, having split their matches in the regular season and trading wins in the playoffs since the Patriot’s title run.  

While they are no longer classified in the same region, when they began to see each other twice a season before the playoffs in 2021, especially in what quickly became very fierce competitions, intensity escalated on both sides. 

Thus, saying high tensions were coming into the match on March 21 would be an understatement. 

The focus for both teams was their success on set pieces. Mountain Brook excelled in being able to capitalize on corners and free kicks, having multiple plays in their arsenal they were able to utilize to creatively play balls inside the box and create goals. 

Furthermore, the Spartan’s keeper, Alabama football-commit Reed Harradine’s monster leg allowed them to place the ball almost inside the 18-yard box every time he made contact, providing them even more opportunities. 

For Homewood, set pieces have been their Achilles heel all season, having allowed all but one of their goals from dead ball situations.

The Patriots were laser-focused on preventing all of Mountain Brook’s free attempts from proving fatal, and the difference in the match. 

And prevent them they did.

Through the first 20 minutes, Homewood did an excellent job of weathering the Spartan offensive storm. Mountain Brook loves to start their matches hot and fast, scoring early and then playing a more systematic approach. 

However, if their opponent can prevent this from happening, they even the playing field and have a far more substantial chance of taking down the reigning state champions. 

Despite a few close calls on both sides, when the final three whistles blew, the red numbers shining bright against the black scoreboard backdrop read all zeros. 

Regardless of the final score, it was clear to fans and spectators alike that Homewood had come away with the win.

They had gone to the state champion’s home field, in a hostile atmosphere, with terrible playing conditions, and held them scoreless, furthermore dominating in every other major aspect of the 80 minutes.  

After the match, head coach Julian Kersh could not laud his players enough, praising their “tremendous” play, saying they were “gutsy” and “dogged,” just as he had asked them to play. 

“They never lost belief,” Kersh said, “And, you know, we came to the state champions home field and walked away with a 0-0 tie, so, not exactly the result we were looking for… but it’s tough to be disappointed when you walk away from a great opponent like this and come out even.” 

When asked what the one thing he would change from the match would be: “Score a goal. Plain and simple.” 

The boys take the pitch again Thursday, March 23 visiting the Vestavia Hills Rebels.