By JOHN D. FERGUSON
TULSA — Sophomore Alberto Ramriez capped a furious second-half rally with a 25-yard, free kick goal to lift Tahlequah over Metro Christian 2-1 in a District 5A-3 soccer battle Monday night.
The victory assured the Tigers (7-6 overall and 4-3 in district) a spot in the playoffs.
However, the Lady Tigers were not so fortunate. Tahlequah ended its season with a 5-0 defeat in a game for the last playoff berth.
In the boys game, Tahlequah peppered the Metro goalkeeper with shot-after-shot in the first half, but came up empty. The Patriots took a 1-0 lead midway through the second half on a long goal by Luke Bailey.
The Tigers did not give up. Tahlequah finally started to put more pressure on the Metro end of the field as the game entered the last seven minutes.
Freshman Alex Paris scored with just over seven minutes left to tie it. He took a rebounded ball off a teammate’s kick and drove it in from close range.
A minute later, Ramirez scored the biggest goal of his life with a long free kick just over the outstretched arms of keeper Danny Burke, who had 11 saves in the game.
“That’s my longest (goal),” said Ramirez, who appeared exhausted after the final whistle. “I’m not tired. I could play another game.”
Ramirez was not only good with his foot, but used his head, too. He took a line drive kick that he headed away like a bullet. Ramirez appeared unharmed when asked if he had a concussion.
Paris could sense the urgency late in the game.
“We were just trying to tie it,” Paris said. “We wanted to get the stress off our back.”
Paris’ goal lifted a ton of weight off the Tigers for sure.
“George (Bullard) kicked it and I was there to clean it up,” Paris said of tying goal.
The ball Bullard tried to kick was a rebound off the Metro keeper. Bullard only got a piece of it and suddenly Paris had it with an open goal in front of him.
Metro Christian 5, Tahlequah 0 (girls)
The Lady Tigers could not overcome their injuries and missed the playoffs.
“We did what we could with the healthy players we had,” said senior Tory Worth. “Half of our starting numbers are hurt. We definitely played this last game for us. We went out smiling.”
Metro scored two first half goals and added three more to get the last district playoff spot. Goals came from Jourdan Fossett, Roxy Brown, Katie Volak and Emily Horton, who had two scores.
“The girls gave everything they had,” said coach Greg Hall. “I couldn’t have asked for more. We had four starters hurt and brought up players from JV. It was a positive experience for those girls.”
TAHLEQUAH 2, METRO CHRISTIAN 1 (BOYS)
Tahlequah 0 2 2
Metro Christian 0 1 1
Goals: Paris, Ramirez; Bailey.
GK: Lamb 8; Burke 11.
METRO CHRSITIAN 5, TAHLEQUAH 0 (GIRLS)
Tahlequah 0 0 0
Metro Christian 2 3 5
Goals: Horton 2, Fossett, Brown, Volak.
GK: Chaffin 12; Angvoll 2.