It took two overtimes and a shootout to settle it but when the dust cleared Tuesday night at the GHS football stadium the Ridgerunner soccer team had notched up its second win of the season by downing the Poteau Pirates 5-4.
The win moves the Grove team to 2-0 for the season.
The victory avenged a loss suffered by the Ridgerunners to Poteau at the Tahlequah pre-season tournament.
“The team is starting to gel,” said head coach Sean Botts. “Everyone is starting to gel and have respect for one another.”
In the night’s preceding feature the Lady Red took Poteau to two overtimes, a shootout, and a sudden-death (or sudden-life, depending on a point of view) shootout before falling 2-1.
In the boys’ game Monday night it was the Ridgerunners who drew first blood. Grove senior Britton Bechtol scored a goal just four minutes into the contest to give the Ridgerunners the early advantage.
The Pirates came close to scoring at the 28-minute mark of the first half with a direct free kick but the Ridgerunners managed to turn them away.
The Ridgerunners had some shots on goal in the ensuing minutes courtesy of Bechtol and junior Reid Harding before the Pirates broke their duck with a goal at the 17:44 mark of the first half.
Three minutes later the Pirates put together another rally before Ridgerunner goalie Jon Meggyes put a stop to the Poteau surge with one of his 14 saves on the night. Over the next three minutes Meggyes recorded three more saves as the Pirates hovered near the Ridgerunner goal.
The Ridgerunners dominated possession from the eight minute mark and with 6:20 left in the half Grove sophomore Walker Botts drove a shot home that made the score 2-1 in favor of the home team. The score was especially satisfying because an apparent score by Botts just a minute earlier had been waved off by the officials for a rule infringement.
Poteau rallied hard in the final five minutes of the half. Meggyes performed another save but with 3:32 left on the clock Poteau managed to sqeeze in a shot and tie the game at 2 apiece going into the lockers.
The Pirates broke the stalemate early in the second half with a goal at the 36:52 mark to go up by one, 3-2.
Harding led a Grove advance that came close to scoring and shortly after that Grove made good on the promise and Botts scored his second goal of the night to tie things up again.
Shortly after that goal the Ridgerunners Troy Howerton, a senior, and Takaya Iwasaki, a senior foreign-exchange student, threatened the Pirate goal before being turned away.
Poteau put together another strong drive with 22 minutes left in regulation before Meggyes ended the advance with another save.
With just over fourteen minutes left in regulation the Pirates put up another goal to re-take the lead, 4-3.
Seven minutes later the Pirates were threatening again until Meggyes came up with another save.
After that save it took Grove only two minutes, at the 5:19 mark, to tie the game with a goal by senior Wade Unruh.
In the final three minutes the Ridgerunners came close to scoring again as Harding had a couple of shots on goal but time expired with both teams at 4 points.
The first 10 minute overtime period saw Grove come close to scoring at the 4-minute mark with a shot by senior Jeremy Hicks. At the two minute mark Meggyes made a save to preserve the Ridgerunner campaign. Time expired and with nothing resolved a second 10-minute overtime period ensued.
Midway through the second overtime goalkeeper Meggyes produced two saves to hold off a strong Pirate surge. With 3:56 left in the extra, extra frame Harding hit a shot that bounced off the top bar of the Pirate goal. Neither team could put up a score and so the game would be decided in a shootout.
Poteau converted the first of their five allotted shots in the shootout. Senior Kyle Gillard was the first Ridgerunner in line for the shootout and he scored on his attempt. The Pirates next kick found the goal as did Grove’s second kick, this one made by Unruh.
The Pirates kept the pressure on in the best-of-five shootout by converting their third kick. The Ridgerunners responded in kind with a successful attempt from Botts.
The fourth Poteau kicker found his shot land in the hands of goalkeeper Meggyes and now the Ridgerunners had an opportunity to put the game away. Hicks made a kick that was true and Grove went up 4-3 in the shootout.
Poteau had a window to crawl back in the game but their final kicker was foiled. Iwasaki was to be the fifth kicker for Grove in the shootout but with an impregnable lead the Ridgerunners were awarded the point to break the tie and win the game.
Following the game Coach Botts had high praise for his players.
“Our guys showed a lot of heart tonight,” Botts said. “We also need to thank assistant coach Brad Little. His time and his input has made a big impact for us this year.”
The Ridgerunners took a light workout for Wednesday in preparation for today’s home contest with Miami.
“We want our program to be successful and we need to play really well against Miami; traditionally they go to the playoffs every year,” Botts said.
Today’s action at the Grove football stadium will begin at 4:30 with a boys’ JV game. The varsity squads square off at 6:30. No girls’ game is scheduled for today.
In Tuesday’s girls contest the Lady Ridgerunners put up the first goal of the evening with only fifty-one seconds having ran off the clock. Grove’s Rebecca Romero had given Grove the early advantage before the Lady Pirates tied things up with a goal of their own midway through the first half.
The Lady Red put up a couple of nice rallies in the second half. Freshman Blair Thomas had a shot on goal early in the second. The Lady Pirates responded with some shots of their own but Grove’s goalkeeper Kellea Hampton kept Poteau at bay.
Time expired with the score tied at 1 and a 10-minute overtime period commenced. The play was fierce at times in the extra frame; Grove’s Tori Snider took a hard hit from a Lady Pirate at one point but the Lady Ridgerunner turned the tables and dished out the same in return.
At the conclusion of the first overtime period nothing had been resolved and so the teams entered into a second stanza. Each team put some shots on goal; Thomas had a couple of shots that came close, and Hampton was able to turn away a Lady Pirate charge. With the score still tied at 1 after two overtime periods the game moved into a shootout.
The shootout ended with a 4-1 record for both teams. Grove’s Kamie Sager, Bailee Tullis, Felicia Sawyers, and Thomas all put shots in the net during the shootout.
After the tie in the shootout the teams progressed to a sudden-death shootout round. Each team missed their first shots in the sudden-death period but in the second round Poteau made a shot with Grove unable to convert their attempt.