By NICK HAMPTON
FORT GIBSON — It was a history making night for the Lady Tigers of Fort Gibson as they became the first girls soccer team in school history to win back-to-back district championships with a 2-0 win over Keys in District 4A-6 play Friday night at Leo Donahue Tiger Stadium.
“Winning back to back titles is really big for this program,” said Lady Tigers coach Jaime Snyder. “It’s really a credit to the hard work the girls have put in over the years, not just in high school, but in youth and club soccer, and it’s paying off now for our program.”
Although most of the first half was played at the Fort Gibson offensive end, Class 4A’s fourth-ranked Lady Tigers were only able to muster six shots on goal. The best opportunity came late in the half as sophomore speedster Jordan Raynor dribbled from midfield to get a shot off just inside the goal box. The shot bounced off the goalkeeper back to Raynor, who passed to Lillian Bear who put it in the goal. But Bear was ruled offsides on the play and the goal was disallowed.
“We possessed the ball well in the first half ,but Keys’ physical play just knocked off us the ball when we got close,” said Snyder. “At halftime I just told the girls to be more physical and keep going and it would eventually go in.”
And the Lady Tigers did just that. Raynor and Sanya Januszweski both had shots in the opening five minutes of the second half and both went just wide. Finally freshman Gabby Escamilla got loose in front of the goal and blasted it past the keeper to give Fort Gibson a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Later in the half the Lady Tigers added some insurance. With the ball deep on the right side, junior Brooke Benham crossed the ball perfectly on to the foot of Raynor in front of the net and she knocked it in to make it 2-0 with 15:25 to play in the game.
“I saw Jordan (Raynor) in the box and she was right there,” said a beaming Benham. “Lillian (Bear) played me a perfect ball and it just worked out. It was just perfect just like in the pros.”
The Fort Gibson defense made it an easy night’s work for goalkeeper Kyndra Johnson, one of six Lady Tiger seniors honored on the night, as Keys (7-3, 3-2) had only two shots on goal for the game.
The Lady Tigers (8-1, 5-0) close out the regular season Tuesday at Heavener and then a get a week off before hosting a playoff game on April 30.