HUNTSVILLE – The Hoover Buccaneers are off to the Class 7A State Championship game after a shutout effort against Huntsville on Thursday, May 9 at Huntsville’s John Hunt Soccer Complex.

The Bucs scored two goals within the first six minutes of the game and an insurance goal in the second half to create all the necessary separation in a dominant 3-0 victory.

The fast start from the Bucs in the first six minutes of the game was largely thanks to Dee Dee Udeh, both with a play that made the opening goal possible and a goal of her own shortly after.

With the Bucs controlling the ball early, Huntsville felt the pressure quickly, but it was a play ahead to Udeh that eventually paid off.

At first, the ball looked to be too far, but she sprinted, catching it just in time to stop it right in the corner before trickling out of bounds.

Keeping the play alive, she eventually played it in, which led to a tripping penalty just in front of the goal to set up a penalty kick for Hoover.

Elise Marquardt stepped up and easily put the ball in goal, sliding it to the keeper’s left for a 1-0 lead 4:11 into the game.

Then, just more than a minute later, Udeh got in on the action herself.

After another great pass played to her up the middle of the field, Udeh took it off a bounce and was able to beat her defender for a one-on-one opportunity that became a cake walk, as she buried a shot to make it 2-0 with 34:19 to play in the opening half.

From there, Hoover had a few more chances to add to the lead but couldn’t capitalize, while Huntsville had even fewer opportunities with a stingy Bucs’ defense.

That effort led to a 2-0 halftime lead for the Bucs.

Early in the second half, the Panthers came out with a more aggressive approach offensively, pushing the ball toward the goal within the first 10 minutes of the half, but Hoover’s defense always buckled down when facing pressure.

And the pressure didn’t last long.

After that 10-minute spurt, the Bucs took control of the game once again and maintained it the rest of the way with very little threat to their defense.

With 21:30 to play, Nneka Udeh was able to gather the ball in the left corner of the box and fired a powerful shot into the back of the net that became the final straw in the shutout.

Hoover outshot Huntsville 17-2 in the win with 10 of those 17 shots on goal.

The Bucs will now face Auburn or McGill-Toolen in the state championship on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.