FORT GIBSON — Johan Chavez has been working on his shooting from outside the 18 yard line. And Friday night he showed his stuff as he hammered home two goals, the last with just 45 seconds to the play in the game, to propel Fort Gibson to a 3-2 win over Oologah and a date next Tuesday at Oklahoma City Southeast in the Class 4A semifinals.
After spotting the upset-minded Mustangs (9-7) two goals, Levi Ford found the right foot of Zac Cobler on a cross and put it in to make it 2-1 at the half.
“I told them at the half we’re playing a great game and they’re going to get tired,” said Tigers coach Todd Friend. “And sure enough we just applied our pressure and finally got it to pay off with Johan’s goals.”
Chavez noted that he’d been working on his outside shooting.
“All season long I’ve been working on shooting because I’ve got to shoot a lot more from outside the 18 (yard line). That’s what I tried to do this game is stay back and whenever I had a chance took a shot and I got two of them tonight,” said the Tiger sophomore.
The Tiger defense didn’t allow Oologah any shots on goal in the second half.
It will be the second consecutive year for the third-ranked Tigers (12-4) to go to the semifinals, having lost to Santa Fe South last year.
Verdigris 3, Fort Gibson 0
Former Yankee great Yogi Berra once said “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
The tear-stained faces of the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers echoed that sentiment as, for the second year in a row, Verdigris blanked Fort Gibson in the Class 4A soccer quarterfinals Friday night at Leo Donohue Tiger Stadium. The two teams had an identical outcome last year when they met for the state championship.
It’s not like the Lady Tigers didn’t have their chances, but it was just one of those nights when the ball didn’t bounce Fort Gibson’s way.
“We just didn’t finish,” said a dejected Tiger coach Jamie Snyder. “Sometimes it just works out that way.”
Fort Gibson had two great opportunities in the first half as striker Jordan Raynor broke past defenders on passes into the goal box. But each time, Lady Cardinal goalkeeper Jade Graves was just half a step quicker in the foot race to the ball and smothered it before Raynor could get a foot on it. Following the second near-miss, second-ranked Verdigris (12-3) broke down the field and scored with just 24 seconds to play in the half.
The Lady Cardinals’ second goal came with 10 minutes gone in the second half. Fort Gibson had a chance to cut the gap in half as Verdigris was called for a foul in the goal box. But Gabby Escamillia’s penalty kick sailed wide and the score held at 2-0. The Lady Cardinals got their final goal with 14 minutes left.
Fort Gibson graduates five seniors off an 11-4 team that was ranked third in 4A.
“It sucks to lose, of course,” said Brooke Benham, one of those seniors and one who was part of Fort Gibson’s state championship basketball team. “But I’ve learned that losing isn’t the worst thing that can happen. We were more of a family on this team than on any I’ve ever played on and it’s sad to leave them and that’s really the worst thing about tonight.”
Verdigris will move on to the semifinals on Tuesday against the winner of the Mount Saint Mary’s/Harrah game.