MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

May 6, 2014

Roughers ready for playoffs

It was a long wait for the Muskogee boys soccer team but at 8 p.m. today, the Roughers will participate in a postseason match.

That’s when Muskogee travels to Jenks for a Class 6A first-round match against the No. 3 Trojans. Roughers coach Shawn Riley said his squad is ready to show it deserves to be here, having missed the playoffs the previous two years.

“We’re kind of going into the lion’s den,” Riley said. “(Jenks) is one of the top teams in the state traditionally. They’ve got several Division I players. We’ve got some tough matchups.”

The No. 10 Roughers enter the playoffs with a 7-3 record, having won their last two matches, including a 2-1 overtime thriller against Yukon that sealed the berth.

Jenks is 11-2 and could be steaming, having lost to Union 2-0 on April 24, ending its 11-match win streak and suffering its first loss at home in four years. Roman Gutierrez, who was a freshman the last time the Roughers made the postseason, feels that all the teams are on equal terms at this point in the season.

“To get into the playoffs, everybody is good in their own way,” Gutierrez said. “You have to do well to get in and we’ve been doing well. I know Jenks has been doing well also. It all comes down to this one game.”

A special motivating factor is the finality for the 10 seniors. Tonight could be their final match in a Muskogee uniform and Gutierrez said he and his fellow seniors don’t want the season to end.

“The senior class is a pretty big one – kind of like the one my freshman year when we last made it,” Gutierrez said. “All of seniors have been working extra hard this year because it’s our last year and we wanted to have that taste of what the playoffs is like.”

Having to win their final two matches to qualify, the Roughers are treating this just like their previous two outings.

“We told our boys to enjoy the experience,” Riley said. “Just go out there, relax and play.”

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