By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
One moment stands out from this high school soccer season when Fort Gibson coach Jaime Snyder thinks about Jordan Raynor.
Fort Gibson had just increased its lead to 2-0 against Piedmont in the Class 4A state semifinals. Snyder told Raynor, a sophomore, to move forward to defender for the rest of the game. Raynor didn’t hesitate.
“She knew she was not going to score any goals or get her name in the newspaper,” Snyder said. “We used her speed on defense to keep PIedmont from scoring. Making that move spoke so loudly for her doing what it takes to win.”
Raynor wasn’t too bad on the offense either with 10 goals and four assists to help the Lady Tigers to a 12-2 record, the No. 2 spot in the Okrankings.com poll and the state championship game. Her performance earned the All-Phoenix Player of the Year.
She was pleased with her season.
“I wish I had scored more, but I’m not trying to sound greedy,” Raynor said. “Gabby (Escamilla, the Newcomer of the Year) helped me a lot. We’ve played together for a while now and I connect with her more than anyone else.
“I feel good about accomplishments since I’m just a sophomore.”
That’s music to Snyder’s ears.
“She’s not only one of the top players in 4A but in high school soccer in general,” Snyder said. “She’s also a fantastic athlete.”
Snyder can also be proud of her coaching achievements. All of this success came in just her second year as the program’s head coach.
“They were sure a fun bunch to coach,” she said. “We had good chemistry. We enjoyed each other, worked hard together and were mentally driven. I was blessed to coach them.”
Besides Escamilla, who had nine goals and nine assists for the Lady Tigers, Snyder also got to coach girls Offensive Player of the Year Lillian Bear and Defensive Player of the Year. Kyndra Johnson.
Bear, a senior midfielder, had nine goals and three assists this season. Johnson, a senior goal keeper, gave up 14 goals in the Lady Tigers’ 14 games and recorded three shutouts.
Even with players graduating, Snyder looks forward to next year and the lofty expectations for her team.
“I don’t think there’s added pressure for us to get to the finals again,” she said. “Getting there this year proves we can do it again.”
In boys, Fort Gibson grabbed two of three individual honors.
Forward Zach Cobler was named Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 12 goals and getting seven assists, while Daniel Mielnik was named Defensive Player of the Year after recording 16 shutouts in two years as the Tigers’ goalkeeper. Both players are juniors.
The Tigers finished the season at 11-3 and No. 4 in the final rankings after losing 2-1 in the state semifinals to Santa Fe South.
Cobler finished the season unfulfilled.
“I felt I was consistent all year, but I just wished I could’ve helped us get a little farther in the playoffs,” he said. “I wanted us to play for the gold ball as that’s always been my dream. Still, we had a good year and coach (Todd) Friend has set a good foundation.”
Mielnik is already thinking about next year.
“We came up a little short this season, but it’s given us confidence for next year,” he said. “We made a huge step forward in the program and we hope to be in the finals next year.”
The other individual award on the All-Phoenix team went to Muskogee’s Carlos Martinez. He was named the Newcomer of the Year after scoring three goals and making seven assists for the Roughers.
“I think he’s one of the top freshmen in the state and I’m excited to have him for the next three seasons,” Muskogee coach Shawn Riley said.
— Contributing to this story was Phoenix Sports Editor Mike Kays