By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Stillwater High School girls soccer team may not have had much to play for, having already been ousted from the playoffs with Ponca City’s win over Bixby, but that didn’t keep the Lady Pioneers from putting up a fight against the Lady Wildcats during Senior Night Friday at Pioneer Stadium.
Senior Samantha Krysiak’s goal 15 minutes into the match opened the floodgates as the Lady Pioneers beat Ponca City 2-1, avenging last year’s season-ending loss.
“It was very sweet (to get some revenge),” Krysiak said. “We deserved it. We played hard. We got what we wanted and it feels good to walk away knowing that.”
From the start, the Lady Pioneers (7-5, 2-4 in district) looked like they were out for revenge as senior Olivia Staubus got the attack going by nearly slipping one past the Ponca City goalkeeper with 31:34 left in the first half.
Krysiak then got on the board, racing onto a perfectly placed pass by Hannah Grant before ripping a shot into the lower left corner for the game’s first goal.
“It was a great flick on by Hannah Grant,” Krysiak said. “I just had to put it away in the corner of the goal and finish.”
“It’s pretty nice when you’re seniors go out on a high note having scored,” Stillwater coach John Fields said. “Last week Kelsey Henneha scored on her 18th birthday and it’s nice when you can have those memories of your high school soccer days that will really stick with you for a long time. I know for Sam and Kendall (Gordon), being a part of the scoring that we had they’ll remember that.”
Just over four minutes later, Stillwater tacked on another goal as Hannah Grant was able to corral Kendall Gordon’s bouncing ball in front of the Ponca City net before lacing it into the back of the net to give Stillwater a 2-0 lead at halftime.
“Honestly, the first thing that went through my head is, ‘I hope I don’t tear my ACL,’ because that’s how Lauren (Parker) did it,” Grant said. “I just saw (the goalkeeper) coming and I just chipped it over her head really fast. I was kind of surprised that it went in actually, I thought it was going to go over.
“It was really good knowing that we had a 2-0 lead. If we got a couple more, we’d for sure win the game. Even though they got that one goal, we just had to hold them and I knew we could do it.”
Despite dominating for much of the second half, Ponca City was able to cut the lead in half with 5:59 left to play as Stephanie Engster slipped a penalty kick past goalkeeper Alyssa Bullock.
But that’s all the Lady Wildcats got as Stillwater held on the final five minutes to secure a second district win.
“(Ponca City’s goal) turned all of our energy up because we knew we had to hold them,” Grant said. “We knew that if they didn’t score again, it was going to be over for us so we just had to hold them.”
Ponca City boys 3, Stillwater 2
For the past four years, Sam Smith has been such a big part of the Stillwater High School boys soccer team, scoring countless goals and numerous assists.
But it’s the one that he didn’t make that will likely haunt Smith the most.
Needing to make his penalty kick with the Pioneers trailing 6-5, Ponca City’s Michael Caldwell blocked Smith’s shot as Smith collapsed to the turf inconsolable as the Pioneers fell 3-2 to Ponca City on Senior Night.
“That’s back-to-back nights we lost on penalty kicks,” Stillwater coach Seth Condley said. “Same way, same situation. It was a good game, we just didn’t get it done. … I’m still very proud of the guys, but it was a very, very disappointing season — not to our standards at all.”
Friday’s loss seems to be the epitome of Stillwater’s season. The Pioneers played well enough to win at times, tying the game with just under three minutes left to force overtime. But once again, they couldn’t steal victory from the jaws of defeat.
“That’s been our struggle all year long,” Condley said. “We put up a good fight, but we were just too inconsistent. If we played like we did Tuesday, we would have beat that team.”
Hunter Vogele got the scoring started for Ponca City, scoring less than six minutes into the first half, but Stillwater (4-8, 1-5 in district) managed to keep pace with the Wildcats, trailing 1-0 at halftime.
Stillwater then evened the score when Nathan Herrmann found a little daylight, ripping the ball into the back of the net to even the score, but it didn’t stay that way for long as three minutes later Andrew Lesnick fought off a pair of defenders to give Ponca City a 2-1 lead.
The Pioneers nearly tied the game when Garrison Glass found himself open in front of the net, but he couldn’t haul in the bouncing ball and missed just wide.
Glass made up for the mistake as time was running out on Stillwater’s season. With 3:03 left in the game, Glass blasted a header into the back of the net, tying the game at 2 and forcing overtime.
“It felt good to help the team and help the seniors out on Senior Night,” Glass said. “Even though we didn’t pull it out, it gave us a boost. It helped us bounce back, especially because it was so late. It forced 20 more minutes of play and we felt like things were starting to go our way.”
And after two scoreless overtime sessions, it came down to penalty kicks.
Even after Matheus Barbosa missed the first shot, the Pioneers kept battling, matching Ponca City shot for shot. But on Stillwater’s seventh penalty kick, Caldwell finally bested Smith before bolting to the Ponca City sideline.
“We’ve just got to get guys to step up and put the ball in the net,” Condley said. “Sam probably took it harder than anybody because he missed his penalty kick on Tuesday. It’s very hard and emotionally draining. You just hate that for a guy like him because he has done so much for this program. There’s really nothing you can say to comfort him.”
Both the Lady Pioneers and Pioneers will cap off the regular season when they travel to Midwest City Tuesday.
“That’s a game that I expect to win,” Fields said. “Of course you don’t look past anybody, but I expect to win that one. … A win would be huge for us because, despite the fact that we weren’t able to make the playoffs, it would be a season for the Lady Pioneers where this senior class has won the most games since I’ve been the coach and perhaps the most games ever for this program.”