The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 27, 2014

EHS soccer rolls into stacked Stillwater Cup

ENID, Okla. — Enid soccer hasn’t lost in 2014, but after a long spring break, the Pacers’ and Plainsmen’s unblemished start is set for its most substantial test thus far.

The 12th-ranked Plainsmen have won each of their first three matches in decisive fashion, beating Sand Springs, Woodward and Midwest City without surrendering a goal. The eighth-ranked Pacers’ 3-0 start, gained on a similarly lopsided 13-4 aggregate, drew an even more superlative description from Pacers and Plainsmen head coach Craig Liddell.

“It’s the best start in my tenure,” Liddell said. “The best start ever, really, and it comes from hard work and a solid group of senior leaders and the underclassmen buying in. They’re off to a great start.”

After a 15-day spring break from play, both teams’ momentum will get a test from what might be the most competitive field in the Stillwater Cup’s 5-year history.

The Pacers open against Moore, also 3-0 and ranked 17th in the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association’s 6A rankings, at 3:30 p.m. today at Stillwater High’s Pioneer Field. The Plainsmen follow at 5:15 p.m. against defending cup champion Rogers Heritage, Ark. Rogers Heritage played 6A No. 1 Jenks within 2-1 on March 13.

Also in the girls field are 4A No. 1 Verdigris, 6A No. 6 Owasso, No. 15 Edmond Santa Fe, No. 19 Ponca City, 5A No. 2 Coweta and unranked 6A host Stillwater. The boys’ field is rounded out by 6A No. 4 Bartlesville, No. 7 Edmond Santa Fe, No. 15 Stillwater, 4A No. 15 Verdigris and No. 2 Sante Fe South.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the tournament this weekend that’s just saying, ‘We’re gonna win our game’” Liddell said. “Of course, you want to win it, but there’s no guaranteeing anything. Everyone can beat everyone in this tournament … It’s the toughest Stillwater Cup field, boys and girls, ever,” Liddell said.

Both teams treat the tournament as a hopeful launchpad for their district 6A-4 schedules, which open April 4 against visiting Bixby. It’s a different approach from last season, when the Pacers and Plainsmen entered the Stillwater Cup a combined 2-4 (each 1-2) and needing a jolt.

“We had to really step it up for district (in 2013), whereas now, we’re kind of playing well, and it’s more building that momentum and being ready to fly into district, not just scraping by and hanging in, but hopefully getting a top district spot,” Liddell said.

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