By Derek Brown
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater will take to the pitch for the first game of the season at home against Bartlesville.
The challenge will not be easy for the Lady Pioneers as Bartlesville comes to town at 6 p.m. Friday.
“They’re definitely looking forward to playing Friday night. Bartlesville is a pretty tough team. The best team will win naturally. I think these girls should play pretty well Friday night,” Stillwater coach Joey Parker said.
Stillwater has missed the playoffs since 2003. The Lady Pioneers want end that streak and push into the postseason this year. With an eight senior squad Stillwater hopes to have a successful season.
“With this team we’ll go game to game. But I do think we’ll be pretty good this year,” Parker said. “I think this team’s gelled really well in the past two or three weeks. We’re working hard and I think some good things will happen.”
Parker also coaches a club team. Parker has coached many of the Lady Pioneers in club and at the high school ranks. The experience with player and coach can greatly help Stillwater reach its goals this year.
“Playing club helps out tremendously. Most of those girls have good vision, field of play, know where to be where the ball is on the field and they have good composure when they have the ball,” Parker said.
Stillwater will have a sophomore goalkeeper in Alona Williams.
SHS will have senior Hailey Selman and Wesleyan University signee, commanding the backline.
“I think our defense is pretty strong,” Parker said.
Lauren Parker who signed with USAO will be in charge of the midfield.
The Lady Pioneers will sport two freshmen in the starting 11. Emily Keith and Sarah Mays will see the starting lineup as freshmen. Keith will play up top and forward and Mays will be back at defense.
“It’s nice as a coach to be able to have two freshmen come in and use them in the varsity lineup,” Parker said.
Stillwater had a productive preseason besides two injuries. Hannah Grant broke her hand during preseason but is expected to be back for Friday night’s game.
“You get to play a number of players in a lot of different spots,” Parker said. “I think we have our starting 11 figured out pretty well.”
Stillwater knows that when it gets to elimination play that anything can happen. That time is a long ways away and the Pioneers have to get there first.
SHS will host Bartlesville at 8 p.m. Friday to begin the new year.
“It’s very exciting to kick-off the regular season and see where we’re at,” Stillwater coach Seth Condley said. “I know they’re ready to where it starts towards your record. We had a bunch of preseason games where everybody got a bunch of time and minutes. Friday will be a little different. We’ll see where the guys are at. It’ll be a little more intense because it is the regular season and everybody knows you want to try to win the game.”
Stillwater will have some younger players take the field this year. The tough preseason schedule will get those players where they need to be faster. Stillwater has four freshman and a few sophomores that are going to be playing for the varsity team.
“It helps out. It gives them a feel for the game. Once you hit the regular season it’s a different feel anyway because most teams are experimenting anyway,” Condley said. “In preseason I’m not looking for results anyway. I want to see if we’re competing and if we’re doing stuff that we do in training. I was very encouraged with what I saw.”
The Pioneers want to reach the postseason this year.
“Our first step is to make the playoffs,” Condley said. “Once you get into the playoffs anything can happen. You can’t win a state championship without making the playoffs.”