, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

April 16, 2014

FTG sweeps showdown

Tigers, Lady Tigers turn back Hilldale in identical fashion

It’s not always about the players who get all the press.

Case in point was Tuesday’s night 3-1 win by the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers over No. 6 ranked Hilldale in District 4A-6 soccer action at Hornet Stadium.

Although Jordan Raynor and Brooke Beckham have gotten the lion’s share of the ink for the Lady Tigers this season, it was the effort of some of the unheralded players that helped the seventh-ranked Tigers advance to 8-3 on the season and all but wrap up the district championship.

“We pride ourselves on being a team,” said coach Jamie Snyder. “If you take one person away, someone else steps up. Tonight it was Noelle Payne, filling in at a wing spot and Shaye Hatchette , who we moved to defense, that made the difference.”  

The Lady Hornets (9-3, 4-1) scored first as freshman Gracie Farley was in the right spot at the right time to put in a deflection by the goalkeeper off a cross by Leah Gragg with 23:00 to play in the first half. Ten minutes later Fort Gibson answered as Gabbie Escamilla poked one in after a Raynor throw-in fell loose in the goal box. That knotted things at 1-1, and that’s how it was at intermission.

“I told the girls at halftime that all of the emotions of a rivalry game were gone and it was time to get out and play,” said Snyder. “They beat us to a lot of 50-50 balls in the first half and I told the girls that if we’d get out and beat them to the ball in the second half we’d win the game.”

And that philosophy worked as the Lady Tigers controlled the second half, outshooting Hilldale 10-2. Some nice goalkeeping by Hilldale goalie Nicole Wright kept Fort Gibson at bay until another of the unheralded, Cheyenne Cowett, scored off a Raelee Waltman throw in with eight minutes left to give the Lady Tigers the lead for good. Sanya Januszewski scored the final Fort Gibson goal with two minutes left to play.

“We hung in the game tough until they got that second goal,” said a disappointed Lady Hornets coach Brent Breckon. “After that I think we kind of wore down. We just weren’t able to get the ball up top in the second half like we did in the first half.”

 Part of the reason for that, according to Snyder, was the defensive play of Hatchett on Hilldale’s standout forward Gragg.

“She’s (Hatchett) the unsung hero of the game tonight,” said Snyder. “She was on their best player all game and didn’t give her an inch to breath. Taking Gragg out of their offense was big for us.”

Hatchett said playing the tough defense was all about watching the feet.

“Leah’s tough and she’s got some good ball skills. I just tried to watch her right foot to see where she would try to go,” said the Lady Tiger senior.

Despite the loss and barring a major upset, Hilldale seems destined to finish second in the district. The Lady Hornets close out the regular season Friday at winless Atoka while Fort Gibson will host Keys on Friday night.



Fort Gibson 3, Hilldale 1

The Hornets came into the game seeking revenge for an earlier loss to the Tigers in the finals of Wagoner Tournament last month. And early on it looked like they might get it.

Eight minutes into the game Hunter Woods took a through ball for the Hornets and beat goalkeeper Daniel Mielnik one-on-one to give Hilldale the early 1-0 lead. The Tigers (7-4, 2-1) countered later in the half on a goal by Cru Whitlow to tie it 1-1. But it was all Tigers in the second half, much like the girls game, as they outshot the Hornets 12-2.

With just over 10 minutes gone in the second half, Levi Ford lined up a shot just outside the goal box and rifled it past Hornets keeper Michael Breckon to make it 2-1. Despite that goal, Breckon had a solid game in goal for Hilldale, recording 11 saves and repeatedly turning away the Tigers in the second half particularly.

One of the big differences in the game was the midfield play of Fort Gibson’s Johan Chavez. His ball handling skills controlled things in the middle for the Tigers, which was pleasing to his coach.

“We’ve been working with Johan on dribbling around the first guy, but then looking for a quick pass instead of dribbling too much and he did a real good job of that tonight,” said FGHS coach Todd Friend. Chavez also scored the final Tiger goal as time ran out.

For the Hornets, Coach David Saunders knew it would be a tough game.

“I knew coming in we would have to play more direct against them which isn’t the style I like to play, but we had to try to pressure them on defense,” said Saunders. “We couldn’t really control them at midfield as I’d hoped and we tired a little. They were the fitter side and, in the end, they fully deserved the win.”

With their playoff hopes bleak, Hilldale (6-6, 1-3) closes the regular season at Atoka Friday while the Tigers remain in the thick of the playoff chase and will host Keys on Friday.

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