By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The seniors on Enid’s soccer teams play their last home game tonight at D. Bruce Selby Stadium, a 6 and 8 p.m. boys-girls doubleheader with Sapulpa on senior night.
The Plainsmen’s fourth-year players hope the game isn’t their last, period.
Enid’s boys have won twice in its last eight games since a 4-0 start, falling to 6-6 overall, and more importantly to 2-4 against district 6A-4 opponents. The slide has left the Plainsmen needing a win against last-place Sapulpa (2-10, 0-6) and a Ponca City win over Stillwater to finish atop a logjam of 2-4 teams in 6A-4 and to secure a second consecutive playoff berth.
The Plainsmen’s part, on paper, is the easier task.
Though stumbling, Enid enters with a better trend than Sapulpa, which has lost its last five games by an average of 6.8 goals, including 10-goal defeats to Stillwater and Tulsa Washington.
The second requirement isn’t as certain.
“On paper, it’s maybe 60-40 in Stillwater’s favor, but its Ponca’s senior night and it’s at Ponca City, so I’d take it back to about 50-50,” said Enid head coach Craig Liddell.
Ponca City and Stillwater are both 6-6 overall and 2-4 overall, and have each lost three of their past four games entering the regular season’s final week, but the Plainsmen didn’t seem like they’d need to worry about either early on. Enid mostly was dominant during a 4-0 start, and after back-to-back losses in the Stillwater Cup, seemed to have righted the ship after a win against Bixby made for a 1-0 district start.
But the Plainsmen lost four of their next five in district, falling into a tie in the standings at 2-4 with Stillwater, Bixby and Ponca City. Enid’s minus-6 district goal differential is too far from Stillwater's minus-2, the maximum allowed gain in a season game is limited to four goals, and the Pioneers won the teams’ head-to-head match, making the Plainsmen’s only way in to the playoffs is with a Stillwater loss to Ponca City, which Enid holds a head-to-head tiebreaker with after a 1-0 win against the Wildcats last week.
So, what early on seemed an easy conclusion — another playoff trip — is much more complicated, though Liddell said the Plainsmen were no worse for the worry.
"We know exactly what our district's like every year," Liddell said. “You know the one and two spots (Jenks and Union) are gonna be pretty tough. Booker T. came in and were a quality third, then it becomes a catfight, dogfight, whatever you want to call it between us, Stillwater, Ponca and Bixby in the mix. ... We knew what we were getting into.”
The Pacers’ season-closer against Sapulpa (5-7, 2-4 in 6A-4) doesn't bring with it as much intrigue.
Enid's girls (9-3, 4-2) have already clinched the first postseason berth in team history, and have since been locked into a third-place district finish
. All that's left for the Pacers in the regular season is recovering from a 7-0 loss to Union in their previous game, and between games, recognizing Enid soccer’s 23 seniors: 10 girls and 13 boys.