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June 10, 2014

All-Area Spring Sports Coach of the Year: Parker's patience pays off

STILLWATER, Okla. — For most of the season, the Stillwater Lady Pioneers soccer team looked anything but a playoff team. They lost their first 10 games and only scored four goals and were shut out six times. Still coach Joey Parker didn’t lose hope.

“I told the girls before practice that we still had a chance to make playoffs,” Parker said. “We had to win the next three games and hope Enid beat Sapulpa. Once the girls figured out they had a chance, it got their spirits up.”

The Lady Pioneers pulled out three straight one-goal victories to clinch their first playoff berth since 2003. The Stillwater News Press named Parker All-Area Spring Sports Coach of the Year.

“It was the perfect story to end the season with those three wins,” Parker said. “The girls never gave up even when it looked bad. They kept playing hard and it paid off.”

Stillwater started it’s run with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Bixby. The Lady Pioneers led from start to finish in a 2-1 victory over Booker T. Washington. Then the last game, they had to win in a shootout, 3-2 over Ponca City. The run ended with a 5-0 loss to Broken Arrow in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

At times it looked really bad as Stillwater lost four games by five goals or more. Parker said it was his faith that kept him from giving up on the season.

“I’m a Christian guy and prayed a lot of prayers,” Parker said. “I believed in my players and team. Win or lose. I wanted my girls to know I believed in them.”

The Lady Pioneers graduated eight but the players returning will have that playoff experience.

“That’s what you want for your program,” Parker said. “You want it to become an expected thing and keep achieving that goal.”

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