By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
A golden goal in the 98th minute by Saul Medina gave the Tahlequah boys soccer team a 3-2 victory over Pryor Friday night at Doc Wadley Stadium.
The two teams played to a 2-2 draw through the 80-minute regulation period, and neither squad was able to put away the game-winner in the first 10-minute extra session.
With just 2:34 left until a penalty-kick shootout was needed to decide the game, Medina scored on a header off a set piece.
Tahlequah (4-4, 1-1 District 5A-3) was awarded a free kick after a dangerous tackle warranted a yellow card from 30 yards out. Alberto Ramirez put a perfectly-weighted ball on the far back post, and Medina was able to get free and head the ball past the goalkeeper.
“Our set pieces were the key for us tonight,” Tahlequah coach Gary McClure said. “After Tuesday’s loss, we wanted to make sure we were able to come away with a win. It wasn’t the prettiest soccer, but we were able to get the job done.”
Eric Lopez put Tahlequah on top with a goal in the 10th minute, but Pryor (1-4, 0-2) equalized on a Corey Horton strike in the 38th minute.
Ruben Iglecias scored 46 seconds into the second half to again put the home side on top, but a goal by Colten Smith in the 72nd minute sent the game into overtime.
“We want to be aggressive when we get in the attacking third, and we were able to do that tonight,” McClure said. “When we have our opportunities, we’re going to take our chances.”
Tahlequah outshot Pryor 27-13, and the home team attempted five corner kicks to zero by the visiting Tigers.
Pryor 1, Tahlequah (girls) 0
The Tahlequah girls dropped their second-straight 1-0 decision at home, this time falling to Pryor on Gable Field.
The visiting Lady Tigers (3-2, 2-0 District 5A-3 scored the game-winning goal in the 30th minute when Carman Silas was able to find the back of the net.
The play began when Pryor was awarded a free kick from 30 yards out. Three shots were taken, and all three were saved by either the goalkeeper or a defender. The ball finally landed at the boot of Silas following the scrum in front of goal, and she was able to take advantage while Tahlequah was out of position.
Tahlequah (4-5, 0-2) took just one shot in the first half, but the home Lady Tigers peppered the Pryor net with six second-half shots, all coming in the final 15 minutes.
“We were able to get more pressure after we made an adjustment defensively,” Tahlequah coach Greg Hall said. “We came out with five defenders, but we were capable of handling their pressure and made the decision to push up one of our defenders to an attacking midfield role.”
The extended pressure nearly resulted in a goal until the 74th minute, when Lydian Fite went down with an apparent leg injury.
The game was halted for approximately 30 minutes as an ambulance was called upon to take Fite to the hospital, and the final 6:07 was played with less intensity.
“Unfortunately, that incident took the momentum out of the game,” Hall said. “At that point, the only thing we wanted to do was get the game through, try to get the win, and then go visit Liddy to make sure she’s alright. Soccer is just a blip on the radar when you look at the big picture. What’s important is we come through this as a team and we go support Liddy.”
Tahlequah had a chance to equalize with 46 seconds remaining in the game when the home side was awarded a penalty kick, but Hunter Elam’s attempt was saved by Pryor goalkeeper Elizabeth Anderson.
“I’ve seen lots of people miss PK’s, even at the World Cup stage. It’s going to happen,” Hall said. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get the win, but there are more important things to worry about right now.”
Pryor outshot Tahlequah 12-7, and the visitors posted a 2-1 edge in corner kicks.