, Muskogee, OK

April 12, 2014

Fort Gibson splits: Tigers lose in revenge game, girls win in rout

By Nick Hampton
Phoenix Correspondent

— FORT GIBSON —  Remembering that penalty-kick shootout loss last season, this was a game that was circled on fourth-ranked Fort Gibson’s calendar.

And this time Fort Gibson would get No. 1 Poteau at home, rather than the road.

But in the end, the defending state champion Pirates just had too much depth and outlasted the Tigers 3-1 in a District 4A-6 encounter Friday night at Leo Donahue Tiger Stadium.

Poteau (10-1, 4-0) would get on the scoreboard first as Braylee Garcia, who had all three of the Pirate goals on the night, found an opening in the middle just inside the goal box and rifled in a shot with 23:35 to play in the half.

Later in the half, the Tigers’ Levi Ford took a corner kick that was deflected back out to him on the wing. He arched a beautiful hook from the far left side that found the top right corner of the net to tie it at 1-1, which is how it stayed until intermission.

“I told the boys coming out for the second half that whoever scores the next goal will have all the momentum, so we’ve got to make it happen,” said Tiger coach Todd Friend.

In the Poteau halftime huddle, coach Neto Silva figured his team’s depth, playing 15-17 players, would eventually pay off.

“We talked about the lack of substituting on their part and with the number of players we play, we decided to try and tire them out,” said Silva. “We passed the ball a lot to make them work and got the ball out on the wings a lot to make them run more.”

With just over 10 minutes gone in the second half, Garcia took a through pass and beat the defenders for a point blank shot past Tiger goalkeeper Daniel Mielnik to make 2-1.

Midway through the second half, there was some controversy as the Tigers (6-4, 1-1) had started pressing Poteau.  On a ball in the corner, the lineman seemed to indicate it was a corner kick for the Tigers. But after consulting with the referee, the corner kick was waved off and play continued.

“That play really seemed to take away our momentum and upset the kids and right after that they scored their third goal, so that’s kind of on me,” said Friend. “But when you call the corner kick, just man up and say you called it and don’t change your mind when the ref asks you.”

Friend thinks it won’t be the last time they’ll see each other.

“We played tough in the first half, but we made too many defensive mistakes in the second half and just looked like we were out of gas,” said Friend. “Being in the same district means we won’t have to play them early if we make the playoffs. But it wouldn’t surprise me if we see these folks again this year.”



Fort Gibson 8, Poteau 0

Lady Tiger speedster Jordan Raynor scored four first-half goals, giving her 13 on the season and midfielder-turned-forward Brook Benham added two more as ninth-ranked Fort Gibson recorded its third straight shutout.

Coach Jamie Snyder’s decision to move Benham from midfield to forward three games ago has paid dividends. In the early part of the year, the Tigers were averaging only two goals a game. Since that switch, Fort Gibson (7-3, 3-0) has scored 23 goals in three games. Poteau fell to 3-4 and 2-2.

“Brook was doing a good job at midfield, but I just didn’t feel like I was getting her best potential. So I made the decision to move her up because she’s such a good finisher,” said Snyder. “My job is simply to look at all the pieces of puzzle and put them in the right place for the best results.”

For Raynor, playing up front with Benham is just a natural.

“We’ve played together since we were in Under-12,” said the junior sparkplug. “I don’t know — it’s weird because we just seem to know where we’ll be on the field and she’s always right there when I need her to be.”

 In addition to Raynor and Benham, Gabby Escamilla scored a goal off a corner kick and Shaye Hatchette added a goal.

Tuesday night is another big game for the Tiger teams as they travel to Hilldale to test the Hornets. Both will be battles involving top-10 teams. Hilldale’s girls come in ranked eighth in 4A, one spot ahead of the Lady Tigers. Fort Gibson’s boys are fourth and Hilldale is eighth.