Soccer squad dealt setback

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Soccer squad dealt setback

An uphill battle now awaits the Pawhuska Lady Huskies as they attempt to return to the state high school soccer playoffs.

Following last week’s heart-wrenching home loss to four-time defending state champion Verdigris, the Lady Huskie squad will need to win the remainder of its district matches and hope that something unusual happens to either the Lady Cardinals or the Oologah Lady Mustangs.

The PHS girls have reached the postseason three times since their soccer program became eligible for state competition in 2011 — but the 0-2 start in District 4A-5 may break the local playoff streak.

Pawhuska head coach Giovanie Soliano said he warned the Lady Huskies that there was no margin for error in their District 4A-5 matches — and especially not against the defending state champs. PHS was physically out-played in the district opener at Oologah, the coach said, adding that his players missed several early scoring opportunities in both of those contests.

“I told the girls that they have got to take advantage when they have the chance,” Soliano said. “If they don’t, the other team is going to.”

Verdigris needed two overtime periods and some official intervention in the fifth round of the shootout to survive the determined efforts of the host Lady Huskies and escape, 1-1 (4-3), in their March 31 district match at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium.

Pawhuska midfielder Genie Herren headed home a shot with 18:43 remaining in regulation to tie the score at one goal apiece. The match-tying goal by the Lady Huskie junior came off a free kick from the corner by PHS senior Andie Sweeden after she had collided with the Verdigris goalkeeper after chasing a pass from Macy Hurd into the penalty area .

Verdigris held a 1-0 advantage for more than 40 minutes of the match after the the initial goal was scored in the 21st minute of the first half by the Lady Cardinals’ Haley Wood. Following a corner set-up from freshman Mikayla Pacin, sophomore Wood chipped her kick into the right corner of the net past the PHS goalkeeper, Jordyn Kitchel.

The score remained knotted at a goal apiece when the second half ended and the teams then battled through two scoreless overtime periods, which sent the match on to a shootout. Six players from each side alternated attempting penalty kicks from approximately 10 yards in front of the goal — with the other team’s goalkeeper serving as the only defender — before the winner was determined after more than two hours .

Both teams made their first two kicks in the shootout and converted three of the five they attempted in the round. After Verdigris was successful on its leadoff attempt, Sweeden evened the score at one point apiece with a blast into the top right corner. The Lady Cards went back on top before Phillippi delivered again — booming home a shot that re-tied the contest.

When the third Verdigris kicker pulled her shot wide of the goal, the door was opened for Pawhuska to take its first lead. Lady Huskie junior Karissa Hughes seized the opportunity by sending a one-hopper into the net behind the goalkeeper of Verdigris, Jessica Williams.

Needing a score to prolong the contest, the visitors stayed alive when the next Lady Cardinal kick got through the PHS goalkeeper to even the match at three points apiece. Pawhuska missed its fourth shootout try, but Verdigris failed to take advantage as Kitchel blocked the fifth shootout attempt off the top of the goal and out of play.

The final shot of the round was left to Herren, who appeared to have kicked in the game-winner twice. Neither point was allowed, however, because the official ruled that he had not sounded his whistle allowing for play to begin. On the second try, the VHS defender was already in position seconds before Herren booted a second consecutive kick to the open net on the goalkeeper’s left side — and the referee again waved the point off.

When Herren tried sneaking her third penalty kick to the other side, Williams made a diving save that preserved the tie score and necessitated selection of another round of shooter to continue of the procedure. After the Lady Cardinals moved back in front on a successful kick by freshman Samantha Bayles, Pawhuska’s shot off the foot of senior Hurd bounced wide off the left goal post, bringing the match to a somewhat surreal end.

Kitchel, who was making her varsity debut in goal, had been spectacular throughout the 80 regulation minutes and the twin OT sessions. The PHS freshman finished with 16 saves, while the junior goalie for Verdigris denied 13 shots by the Huskies. An outstanding performance also was provided by Lady Huskie junior midfielder Keylee Kirk, who repeatedly outhustled the visiting opponents to the ball.

About a minute before Pawhuska tied the score, Phillippi had stayed on the field after being leveled while helping defend the home goal. The junior forward was at Herren’s side when the Lady Huskie scored and remained a factor at both ends for PHS.

Verdigris improved its record to 2-3 by winning its second straight match, while Pawhuska fell to 2-3 following consecutive district losses.

OOLOGAH 2, PHS 0

A shutout loss at Oologah on March 24 put the Lady Huskie playoff hopes on fairly thin ice.

The Lady Mustangs scored one goal in each half and wore the visiting Pawhuska girls down by capitalizing on some physical mismatches.

“We didn’t play physical enough — but that’s something we improved on for the Verdigris match,” Soliano said.

The final score against the Lady Mustangs may gave been a few points worse if freshman goalkeeper Star Sweeden had not made several spectacular saves in the last 25 minutes of the contest. Pawhuska senior defender Ashley Youngwolfe also came into the match to help counter the home team’s physical advantage.

Oologah’s first goal came 10 minutes into the match when a Lady Mustang free kick from the 30-yard sideline sailed over the Lady Huskie starting goalkeeper, Jenna Shulanberger. Pawhuska took eight shots on goal during the first half to nearly match the eight that were taken by the home team. With 35 minutes remaining, however,a 20-yard Oologah boot at the opposite end of the field eluded the reach of a leaping Sweeden.

Both Oologah goals were scored by freshmen while the Lady Mustangs’ senior goalkeeper, Mallorie Stonebarger, recorded the shutout. On the unfamiliar artificial surface of Mustang Stadium, the Lady Huskies struggled from the match’s start to finish against the larger Oologah players. (Although the PHS squad recently participated in the Oologah Tournament, all three of its matches were held on a pasture-like practice field next to the stadium — where half the tourney games were played.)

DISTRICT 4A-5

SOCCER STANDINGS

School W-L / Dist. W-L / MPts

Oologah…..6-1…..2-0….. 6

Miami……4-3……1-0…… 4

Verdigris…..2-3…..1-0….. 1

Tulsa Central..0-0..0-0… 0

Tulsa Rogers..0-5..0-0… 0

Pawhuska….2-3…0-2…. -3

Commerce…0-6…0-2… -8