By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
For 37 minutes in the first half the Stillwater High School boys soccer team went toe-to-toe with Moore.
It’s the other three minutes that Stillwater coach Seth Condley would like to have back.
Trevor Hunt’s penalty kick with 1:06 left in the first half proved to be the difference-maker in Stillwater’s 2-1 loss to Moore Friday at Pioneer Stadium, extending Stillwater’s losing streak to three games.
“I’m really at a loss for words at what’s going on,” Condley said. “We’re just getting some bad breaks, but good teams make their own breaks. We had so many chances to score, but we didn’t finish any of our chances. We gave up a handball in the penalty box. … I just don’t know what to tell you. This is tough. This team is not used to losing. We’ve had some back-to-back winning seasons, got the program turned around. We’re just struggling right now.”
It started early for the Lions, as Moore’s Oscar Noguera scored two minutes into the game to give Moore an early — and almost unexpected — lead.
“They made a good goal on their first goal,” Condley said. “You have to give them credit. They came out ready to play and they kind of caught us off guard. They just made a really nice play and were able to get an early lead.”
The Pioneers (1-3) battled back a little later in the period, however. With 20:25 left in the first half Tre Diaz found Marlon McDonald with a high-arching cross. McDonald then deposited it in the back of the net with a header for his first varsity goal, tying the game and giving Stillwater plenty of momentum.
“It was amazing,” McDonald said. “It was my first game playing forward ever in a varsity game. I saw the ball coming and Ian Fladie was always in practice teaching me how to head a ball and it just worked. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Stillwater had its fair share of chances to take the lead late in the first half, but those shots sailed wide, often bouncing off the side of the net.
It looked like it was going to stay knotted at 1 as the two teams went into halftime, but a handball inside the box gave Hunt a penalty kick with 1:06 left on the clock.
And unlike the Pioneers, Hunt didn’t miss, drilling it into the back of the net to give the Lions a 2-1 lead at halftime. Hunt’s goal was also the second time in as many games that Stillwater has given up a goal in the final two minutes.
“That’s back-to-back games that we’ve given up a goal with a minute before halftime,” Condley said. “We talk about it, but it’s just an unfortunate break. I’m not going to argue with the call. He called it and we just have to do a better job of keeping our hands down around the penalty area.”
From there things started to unravel for the Pioneers. Gasem Gasem picked up a yellow card with 28:17 left in the second half and Stillwater’s offense struggled at times to get past the stout Moore defense.
Barbosa did have a couple of shots, as did Gasem. But even when they did get an open shot Moore goalkeeper James McNew was there with little traffic in his way as neither team could get on the board in the second half.
“That’s the tough part because we’ve got so many talented guys on this team that can score and finish,” Condley said. “We’re just not getting it done. We get in the game, we’re just a little off. We’re shooting when we probably should cross and crossing when we probably should shoot. It’s just tough.”
With the loss the Pioneers now know it’s going to be an uphill battle to make the playoffs. But while the loss hurts, McDonald said they still have plenty of fight in them, beginning with the Stillwater Cup in two weeks.
“This was really tough because it was our first district game,” McDonald said. “I know none of the seniors wanted to lose the first district game, so going into the locker room is going to be tough. We just got to get ready for the next game and move on.”