The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

April 14, 2014

Pacers, Jenks square off for district soccer lead

ENID, Okla. — Tonight’s District 6A-4 match at No. 2 Jenks could arguably be the biggest game in Enid’s girls soccer history.

The No. 12-ranked Pacers (8-1, 3-0), who have never qualified for the postseason playoffs, are facing the Lady Trojans (8-1) with co-leadership of the district (with Union) on the line.

“It’s big,’’ said Enid head coach Craig Liddell. “They understand these kind of games are what you work so hard for ... I told the girls don’t let these moments pass you by, embrace them.’’

Jenks has lost only to Union, 1-0 in the Heart of America Tournament which did not count in the 6A-4 standings. They have outscored opponents 45-6.

The Lady Trojans have beaten EHS in back-to-back seasons, 8-0 and 6-0.

However, EHS is off to its best start in school history. The Pacers have outscored opponents 22-5, while goaltender Grace Enmeier has recorded five shutouts. Sophie Holle has tied her own school single-season scoring record with 11 goals.

“The girls know how good Jenks is,’’ Liddell said. “We know how hard a place it is to win. We respect them, but we don’t fear them. We’re going to go toe-to-toe with them and see what happens. If you go in scared, sooner or later the big dogs take over.’’

The Pacers, to win, must play team defense and not “go one-on-one,’’ Liddell said.

“We have to have each other’s backs,’’ Liddell said. “We work in packs and specific units. You have to be organized. That kind of discipline allows us to keep them in check.’’

Liddell also said the Pacers must “value every possession.’’

“We can’t give up anything cheap,’’ he said. “The nice thing about possesion play, if you have enough valued possessions, you will have opportunities to get on the board.’’

The Pacers have won five-straight since a shootout loss to Moore at the Stillwater Cup. They have allowed only one goal over that period.

Liddell was encouraged by the Pacers’ reaction to their 3-0 win over Stillwater on Friday in a game he didn’t think they played particularly well in.

“The girls held themselves accountable that they didn’t play well and they realize you can’t play that way against the good teams,’’ he said.

 “We’ll find out how good we can be. There’s no pressure on us. If anything, the pressure is on them. We can go over and give it our best shot.We have a nice little rhythm going, and we’re working our socks off for a chance to compete against team like Jenks.’’

The boys (5-4, 1-2) will be an underdog against the No. 3-ranked Trojans (8-1, 3-0), who have won eight- straight after opening the season with a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Edmond North. Jenks has outscored opponents 34-7.

The Plainsmen shocked Jenks 4-3 in Enid last season.

“We know with the right focus and right work ethic it can be done,’’ Liddell said. “This is almost like a playoff game. If we can win the last four, we control our destiny. I know the Jenks kids didn’t like getting beat, and they will be ready for us.’’

EHS, with a loss, still can make the playoffs if it wins its last three games, Liddell said. He said EHS could make the postseason by winning two of its last four games.

Pedro Braga leads the offense with six goals. Goaltender Victor I. Hernandez has allowed only seven goals in regulation this season.

The Plainsmen have lost three of their last four games, including a 3-1 decision to Stillwater on Friday.

“The boys could easily be 8-0 or  9-1,’’ Liddell said. “We really felt we could have won all of those games, but it’s one of those could have, should have things. We’re going to battle hard tomorrow and see if we can do it again.’’

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