OOLOGAH — Pawhuska High School’s Lady Huskies shook off a setback in their soccer season opener by seizing the spotlight, and a tournament championship, at last week’s Lady Mustang Showcase.
The Tuesday loss at Enid became more and more of a distant memory as the Lady Huskies picked up twin victories Thursday before snaring the tourney title in a Friday night shootout.
"All of the girls played well in the tournament," Pawhuska coach Giovanie Soliano said. "Everybody pulled together following the loss to Enid — and our seniors were the ones leading the way."
In their finals match, the Lady Huskies hooked up in a 100-minute scoreless battle with the Skiatook Lady Bulldogs. Just like in their previous meetings, the two teams provided plenty of action while putting few points on the scoreboard. At the end of two 40-minute halves and a pair of 10-minute overtime sessions, the contest remained deadlocked at 0-0.
PHS seniors Danae Laird, Genie Herren and Stephanie Clifton connected on penalty kicks during the decisive shootout. The fifth shooter scheduled by the Lady Huskies (senior Karissa Hughes) was not even called upon, since Pawhuska had already been declared the winner of the match — by a 0-0 (3-0) score. Three of Skiatook’s four penalty kicks in the finals bounced off the goal crossbar. Friday’s weather presented another near miss for the Lady Huskies. who accepted the champions’ plaque while temperatures and rain were both falling at the Oologah Stadium. The eight-team tourney also included Commerce, Tulsa Hale and a JV squad from Union.
The championship shootout capped an outstanding tourney for Star Sweeden, the sophomore goalkeeper of the Lady Huskies. Sweeden shut out Claremore in the tourney’s opening round and then survived a shootout with Owasso in the semifinals. Senior midfielder Keylee Kirk booted the only goal in PHS’s initial tourney triumph — a 1-0 decision against the Lady Zebras’ junior varsity.
Pawhuska’s girls also prevailed in overtime during their Thursday semifinals matchup against Owasso’s jayvee squad. Kirk and Clifton scored to keep the locals even with the Lady Rams in regulation. Shootout points from senior Sarah Phillippi, Clifton, junior McKenzie Fortney and Laird produced a 2-2 (4-3) victory for PHS. The Lady Rams successfully converted three penalty kicks, but Sweeden successfully deflected their other two shots. (Last year, Pawhuska was sent to the Oologah event’s consolations as a result of a second-round loss to the Owasso’s JV.
Two of the Lady Huskies’ freshmen players — defender Gabby Moen and forward Alyssa Fanning — spent considerable amounts of time on the field during the tourney.
Soliano said his PHS squad turned in a highly respectable performance in their 4-0 loss to the Enid Lady Plainsmen. The Lady Huskies trailed by just one point at the end of the first half, with the Enid goal scored off a free kick that sailed, untouched, into the upper net.
"Our goalkeeper (Sweeden) made a good block on the shot before their second goal, but then our defense let them make an easy follow shot," Soliano said. "Considering that Enid is a 6A school, I don’t feel too bad about them beating us — but we still could have won."
The third-year coach said the Lady Huskies will be practicing all this week, during Spring Break.
"Our first District game is next Tuesday (March 22) in Grove and we’ll also have three home matches this month — Thursday, March 24, versus Cushing; Tuesday, March 29, against Miami, and Thursday, March 31, with Tulsa Webster," Soliano said. "Miami and Webster are also in our District — so they’re games we’ve got to win."
This year, Pawhuska’s matches with its key District 4A-8 rivals — Verdigris and Oologah — are scheduled late in the season. The Lady Cardinals of Verdigris will be making a visit to Ormand Beach Stadium on Thursday, April 14. On the following Monday, the Lady Huskies return to Oologah for their showdown with the Lady Mustangs — who are the defending District champs. (Last season, PHS’s first District match was at Oologah.)
"We’ll play Verdigris here and Oologah there, just like last year — but I think the results are going to be different this time," Soliano said.
In last week’s Mustang Showcase, the Oologah girls lost their opener to the Union JV team. The Lady Mustangs wound up finishing third in the event after defeating Claremore and Commerce.