Enid’s Armando Vegas tries to get the ball past an Owasso defender on Monday,April 26, 2021, at D. Bruce Selby Stadium. (Tarik Masri / Enid News & Eagle)

The Plainsmen staged a 2-1 comeback victory against No. 3 Owasso in double overtime on Monday at D. Bruce Selby Stadium.

Both teams came into the game needing a win to secure their seed in the playoffs. Enid struggled to find any good looks in the first half, but neither team seemed to have an obvious advantage until the Rams scored in the 24th minute.

Enid desperately needed a win to secure its spot as least the No. 2 team in Class 6A-4. Owasso (8-7, 5-2) did everything it could to prevent that from happening, but some halftime adjustments for Enid proved to be the difference.

After several swings in momentum, the Plainsmen started to get control again in the second half.

Enid’s go-to on offense this season has been senior forward Luis Mendoza who came up big again on Monday with a season-saving goal with just 12 minutes remaining in the game. Mendoza got a pass inside the box, turned and fired a half-volley that tied the game at one apiece.

Enid head coach Craig Liddell called the goal “an absolute beauty.”

“Very scrappy, tough game like the playoff games will be,” Liddell said after the game. “We just found a way to get the result, the boys competed really well.”

The Rams had their fair share of opportunities to put it away late in the game and in overtime but goal keeper Oliver Castellanos came up with some huge saves to keep the Plainsmen alive.

“First half he had some dents but not a ton,” Liddell said of his keeper. “Second half, they had one chance on a counter-attack and a couple of crosses but he was really inactive. So to come in on the first overtime and play the way he did was just fantastic because he hadn’t had much for the last 40 minutes and then all of the sudden he’s getting peppered with one on one strikes from distance and a crafty curve on a free kick and he stood the test for all of them.”

Brandon Garcia ended up with the game-winner on a corner kick that bounced around in the box until the senior defender finally pushed it across the line. Liddell said he was happy with the way the team responded to the changes the team made in the second half.

He said that adding an extra attacking midfielder made a big difference in the game.

“We played with two attacking mids for a change and that threw off their rhythm and we started to pull them apart a little bit more and get some more through-balls.”

The Plainsmen have just one game remaining in the regular season and could end up finishing as the No. 1 or No. 2 seed depending on how things play out in other games this week. If Stillwater falls in its game against Sapulpa, the team will have two losses in its division and no longer be tied with Enid for the top spot. If the Pioneers win , then they would hold the tiebreaker over Enid and secure the top spot.

If the Pioneers lose to Sapulpa, they’ll drop all the way to No. 3 in the division, with Owasso holding the tiebreaker.

Enid also will face off against Sapulpa with its game being played on Thursday to make up for a missed game last week.

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Masri is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Tarik? Send an email to tmasri@enidnews.com.

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