By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Missed chances and blown opportunities — those are the things that will likely haunt the Stillwater High School girls soccer team following a 2-1 loss on penalty kicks to open district play against Moore on Friday at Pioneer Stadium.
The Lady Pioneers (3-1) had 20 shots on goal — 10 in the first half, including two that hit the crossbar — but just couldn’t find the back of the net when it mattered most as Moore goalkeeper Kennady Maynard made back-to-back saves to give the Lions a 4-3 advantage in penalty kicks.
“We out-shot them, but we didn’t have any followup once we shot,” Stillwater coach John Fields said. “It’s unfortunate because we absolutely had to win that game in district. Now, it absolutely puts us in a hole right out of the gate in our district.”
After what seemed like a multitude of chances in the opening minutes, Moore struck first. Thanks to a turnover in Stillwater’s defensive end off goalkeeper Alyssa Bullock’s punt, Moore’s McKailee Davis was able to steal the ball and drive it into the back of the net to give the Lions a 1-0 lead with 19:02 left in the first half.
Stillwater nearly answered as Sam Krysiak found an open Jessie Ralston with a cross, but Ralston’s header sailed wide left. Three minutes later Lauren Parker also found herself in front of an open net after splitting two Moore defenders, but couldn’t get herself turned around quick enough to get a shot lined up as her shot sailed wide right.
“It’s part of the game, it happens,” Krysiak said. “We just need to come back and work on our shots. We need to get them away cleanly, but it’s just part of the game.”
The Lady Pioneers had one last chance to even the score before halftime when Hannah Grant got an open look at the net. But like the shots before, Grant just couldn’t find the back of the net as she hit the crossbar and the Lady Lions took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Despite the first-half struggles, it didn’t take Stillwater long to even the score in the second half. Olivia Staubus led Krysiak with a perfect cross and Krysiak made sure this one found the back of the net, tying the score at 1-1 with 37:39 remaining in the second half.
“It was a great pass from Olivia Staubus, straight to my feet,” Krysiak said. “It was easy to tuck away. We really needed that goal to get our confidence up and get us started for the second half.”
Kelsey Henneha nearly gave Stillwater the lead, lacing a shot just past the Moore goalkeeper’s reach. But once again, the post was unkind to the Lady Pioneers as the ball clanked off the left post – the third time Stillwater drew iron on a shot.
“We had opportunities, just no followup,” Fields said. “We clearly out-shot them. Clearly, we were better offensively. But they followed their shots.”
Moore almost ended the game in regulation, making one last strike with less than 10 seconds left but the Lady Lions couldn’t put a foot on the cross, forcing overtime.
Playing with only 11 varsity players, the Lady Pioneers struggled to get much going in either overtime session. Stillwater did have one brief spurt midway through the second overtime, but was unable to get a decent shot off.
“We just didn’t have enough energy to finish,” Fields said. “We played 11 players. We only have 11 varsity players and every one of those players played 80 minutes.”
It looked like things might turn around for the Lady Pioneers with the penalty kicks as after both teams scored on their first attempts, Moore’s Brandi Whitehouse hit the crossbar before Parker followed with a goal.
Even Staubus got a second chance after the official ruled that Maynard left the line too early. Staubus made the most of her second chance, depositing the ball into the back of the net to give Stillwater a 3-2 lead.
That’s when it all went south for the Lady Pioneers.
Maynard blocked Grant’s shot before Cindy Ramos banked one off the post to give Moore a 4-3 advantage. Moore then sealed the victory when Maynard stopped Henneha on Stillwater’s final shot.
“This loss hit us pretty hard as a team,” Krysiak said. “It’s just going to teach us to come back even stronger. It made the road to the playoffs a little more difficult, but we can come together as a team and pull through.”
The Lady Pioneers will be off until March 29 when they will compete in the Stillwater Cup.
“There’s really nothing you can say after a loss like this,” Fields said. “I just told them that this is a ridiculously hard way to start your district.”