By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
OWASSO, Okla. —
The script was a little too familiar.
For the second time in the last three seasons, the Enid Plainsmen fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Owasso Rams 1-0 in the first round of the Class 6A soccer playoffs. But this year’s loss may have been even more crushing than the loss in 2011, when the Plainsmen gave up the game-winning goal with eight minutes remaining.
Making their first playoff appearance since 2011, the No. 10 Plainsmen (8-6) battled No. 6 Owasso (9-0) Tuesday night to a 0-0 tie through two scoreless halves and two overtimes —including a save by Victor Hernandez on an Owasso penalty kick late in regulation — before falling on penalty kicks 3-0 in the shootout. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Plainsmen that included a win over then top-ranked Jenks and brought Enid’s season to a close.
“It was a great battle all night,” said Enid head coach Craig Liddell. “But the result was tough to swallow.”
The Plainsmen had two excellent scoring opportunities in the first half.
Enid’s first solid scoring chance came 20 minutes into the game when Oscar Pena stole the ball and took it one-on-one with Owasso’s goalkeeper, who made the save from 10 yards out to keep the contest scoreless. The Plainsmen had another golden opportunity with 10 minutes left in the half when Edgar Delgadillo’s 28-yarder hit the post and crossbar, but stayed out of the Rams’ net as the teams went into halftime tied 0-0.
“At halftime we challenged them and told them ‘let’s get it together, we’ve worked too hard all season,’” Liddell said.
The teams continued to play to a stalemate in the second half, but the tie was nearly broken when Owasso was awarded a penalty kick with 3:45 remaining, when Hernandez came up big.
“He (Hernandez) threw himself into the bottom corner and got both hands on the ball,” Liddell said. “It was just a tremendous save and shows what kind of competitor he is.”
The teams played strong, end-to-end soccer in the two golden-goal overtime periods, but neither came away with a tally and the game went to penalty kicks.
In the shootout, Enid went first and the Plainsmen’s first shot was stopped by the Rams’ goalkeeper. Owasso’s first shot in the shootout hit the crossbar, but its next three shots all went in as Enid was unable to score on any of its three shots and the Rams prevailed 3-0 in penalty kicks to record the 1-0 victory.
Owasso came into the game having surrendered only two goals all season, recording shutouts in six of its eight regular-season wins.
“We had some real good opportunities,” Liddell said. “When it goes into penalty kicks it’s a bit of a lottery. We practice them (penalty kicks), but nothing can compare to a real pressure situation.
“I told them coming off the field after the game no matter what happened, we have been successful all year, and they have been fighters who found a way to win games. The did a helluva good job and I am very proud of our boys.”
Note: Enid holds its annual year-end soccer banquet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Hoover Building on the Garfield County Fairgrounds where it will present its postseason awards.