By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
TULSA — A historical season ended in heartbreak for the Fort Gibson High School girls socer team at the University of Tulsa Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium on Saturday.
Three free kicks doomed the Lady Tigers in losing 3-0 to Verdigris in the Class 4A state championship game.
Caitlyn Hanslovan scored twice and Taylor Beck had the other as the Lady Cardinals, 13-3 and No. 1 in the final Okrankings.com poll, won their third straight state title. Verdigris also won championships in 2009 and 2010, but those titles were vacated when the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association ruled they had used ineligible players.
Fort Gibson won state championships this school year in swimming and girls basketball and will now put the soccer runner-up trophy in the display case at school. The pain of defeat could be seen on the Lady Tigers’ faces.
“This feels really horrible,” sophomore forward Jordan Raynor said, wiping away tears. “We worked so hard to come up here and lose but we’re happy that we made it this far and we made history for Fort Gibson.”
Raynor led the Lady Tigers, ranked second in the final poll and finishing 12-2, with seven shots with four shots on goal while Brooke Benham had one shot on goal. Fort Gibson coach Jaime Snyder tried to stay positive after the loss.
“I said before the game that this team was going to give the glory to God if it won and the glory to God if it lost,” she said. “That’s what held us together. I’m just blessed to have coached in the state championship game. If the last game of the season is the state championship game, there’s no other place we would like to be.”
Hanslovan, a junior, scored her first goal with 27.2 seconds left in the first half on an assist from Taylor Beck. Hanslovan got her second goal, and the team’s third, unassisted in the 62nd minute of the match.
Hanslovan had 20 goals for the season coming into the title game after scoring 33 as a sophomore. She praised the Lady Tigers’ defense.
“Honestly, that was one of the best teams we’ve played all year,” she said. “They were double-teaming me and our other forward (Summer Witt). We had scouted them and knew we had to fight to win this game.”
The Lady Cardinals’ second goal was also unassisted by Beck at the 44:55 mark.
“We fouled them for them to get the free kicks,” Snyder said. “We were playing aggressive and free kicks are part of the game. We need to do a better job on free kicks.”
Senior goalkeeper Kyndra Johnson felt the sting of the loss.
“This hurts,” she said. “I did everything I could to stop them.”