By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
FORT GIBSON – Friday at Leo Donahue Tiger Stadium, it was a matter of what brown could do for the Fort Gibson Tigers – Trent Brown that is.
The senior midfielder scored two goals to lead the Tigers, 9-2 and No. 4 in the Okrankings.com poll, to a 3-1 win over the Claremore Sequoyah Eagles in the Class 4A soccer play-in game.
“The boys played great,” said Fort Gibson coach Todd Friend. “Their keeper made some good stops but we just kept going. Everything you asked them to do, they did it.”
Brown’s first goal came in the 14th minute and was a result of persistence. Brown had three attempts right in front of Eagles (7-6) goalkeeper Joshua Wilhite before the third shot was successful, putting the Tigers up 1-0.
“After a couple of deflections, I finally just connected on it,” Brown said. “It was a little bouncer but it managed to go in.”
His second goal came in the 51st minute and put the Tigers up 3-1. Brown took possession of the ball near midfield and broke through the Eagles’ defense.
“The second goal I just felt it,” he said. “I was full speed, took a couple of dribbles, took a hard shot to the left and made it underneath the goalie.”
The Tigers controlled the action the entire match, outshooting the Eagles 24-3 with 11 of the shots on goal. On the other end of the field, Fort Gibson junior goalkeepeer Daniel Mielnick hardly broke a sweat, stopping two of the shots he saw.
“Today the defense played really good,” Mielnick said. “We played organized and everything. Last year, we barely got any action. This year the defense is still playing good. We were solid tonight.”
The only thing keeping him from a clean sheet occurred at the 26:26 mark when Sequoyah’s Blake Ortery blasted a shot from the right side of the penalty box that curled in beyond Mielnick’s reach.
“That goal was lucky,” Mielnick said. “It was a good shot but even he came up and admitted it was lucky.”
Five minutes before Ortery’s goal, Levi Ford made the score 2-0 when he received a corner kick from his brother Austin and blasted a shot past from the left side into the right corner of the net. The corner kick was one of seven the Tigers had on the day compared to none for the Eagles.
Sequoyah looked as though they had cut the deficit to 3-2 with 4:34 remaining in the second half when Ortery gained possession in the box and put another shot past Mielnick. But before the referee could signal the goal, the side official had his flag up signalling Ortery was offsides.
Even though the Eagles tightened up their defense in the second half, the Tigers took eight shots, three of them on goal.
“Oh man, if you keep attacking them, especially the way our defense played, it really keeps the pressure on them,” Brown said. “That allows the forwards and midfields to get it going. More shots, more chances to get goals.”
The Tigers advance to play at Victory Christian on Tuesday in the first round with the time yet to be determined.