By Ben Johnson
PARK HILL — Fort Gibson players and coach Jaime Snyder certainly knew what was on the line against Keys. All they had to do was get a win to rewrite the history books.
They did it — and they made it look easy in the process.
The Lady Tigers, No. 4 in the Okrankings.com Class 4A poll, got a goal apiece from Lillian Bear, Brooke Benham and Cheyenne Cowett to record a 3-1 victory, marking the first undefeated regular season in school history.
“I still keep being amazed at the fact that God puts me in position to lead these girls,” said Snyder, whose team also claimed the District 4A-6 title as the cherry on top.
“They’re such a good group of girls, and I just feel blessed and lucky to even be a part of it.”
While Fort Gibson (9-0, 6-0 in 4A-6) did allow only its second goal this season, it did little to dampen the mood of the Lady Tigers as the final horn sounded. When the clock ran out, Fort Gibson players let out shrieks of excitement and exchanged countless number of hugs on the field at Cougar Stadium.
“It’s big time for us,” Snyder said. “Just because of the hard work and the chemistry that these girls have.”
The Lady Tigers were seemingly on the attack all night, peppering Keys goalkeeper Jasi Stopp with shot after shot. Fort Gibson ended up with 18 shots on goal, several of which Snyder would have liked to been more on target.
“I felt like we possessed the ball and dominated as far as shots on goal,” Snyder said. “We just couldn’t finish.”
Luckily for Snyder, Bear and
Cowett found the back of the net for an early lead in the first half.
Bear managed to score at the 30:28 mark after the ball was booted around the box on a corner kick.
Cowett’s tally was a well-placed shot that drifted right over Stopp’s fingertips at 23:48.
“The first goal I felt like we gave them; we sat there and watched her in front of the net,” Keys coach Jackie Willis said. “And then the second goal, we miss-mark a girl out here, and she hit a good shot.”
Keys (6-3, 3-2) was able to cut the deficit to one when LeeKelli Kennedy scored only the second goal against Fort Gibson all season.
Kennedy found the ball in front of her in the middle of a scrum at the goal line and just snuck the ball across the line at the 20:14 mark.
“That was actually good for us,” Snyder said. “Because I didn’t know how we’d respond. And I was glad to see how the team responded to that going into the playoffs.”
Fort Gibson built the lead back up to two when Benham was credited with a goal to make it 3-1. Bear’s cross to Benham reached the box, but Keys knocked the ball into its own net.
From there, Fort Gibson held strong on the back line, keeping Keys from formulating any kind of solid offensive attack.
“That’s been our nemesis all year: scoring,” said Willis, whose team attempted only three shots. “...When we get chances against the good teams, we struggle. And that’s kind of our downfall.”
Fort Gibson looks ahead to postseason play.
“Though we’re super excited where we’re at, we’re not finished,” Sndyer said. “We want to keep right on going through the playoffs.”