The Ridgerunner soccer team opened their 2008 season account with a win at Stilwell Friday evening. Grove won the game by a score of 3-2 in a sudden death overtime round. The Lady Red fell 3-0 in their match up with the Lady Indians.
“We found a way to win a close one at the end,” said Grove head coach Sean Botts.
The Ridgerunners found themselves down 2-0 with two and half minutes left in the game Friday when freshman Kyle Earp put Grove on the board with a successful penalty kick. With twenty-four seconds left in the game Grove’s Jeremy Hicks, a senior, headed the ball toward the Indian goal. The Stilwell goalie deflected the ball away but junior Reid Harding took the rebound and drove the goal home to tie the score. In scoring the goal Harding had a hard collision with the Stilwell goalie that aggravated a hip bruise suffered earlier in the game.
“Our kids were praying about him and about the game,” said Botts.
It was the second time in three seasons that Harding had scored a late goal against Stilwell to propel the Ridgerunners into a shootout.
Amid snow flurries and bone-chilling wind gusts the Ridgerunners and Stilwell prepared for a shootout; the soccer equivalent of overtime. In a shootout each team is allowed five penalty shots and whoever scores the most goals is awarded one point to break the tie and win the game.
Grove converted four of their five shots; Earp, senior Wade Unruh, sophomore Walker Botts, and Hicks all finding the net with their kicks.
Stilwell managed to convert four of their shootout kicks as well sending the game into a sudden death shootout. In the second overtime frame each team receives an opportunity for a penalty shot and the first to miss loses if the other team scores.
The first Grove attempt was successful as senior Evan Robinson made a shot. Stilwell missed on their opportunity and the win belonged to the Ridgerunners.
“Our kids showed a lot of character and a lot of guts,” said Botts.
“They didn’t give up faith in themselves. They didn’t start blaming each other or point fingers. They showed a lot of heart. All of our cold weather practices paid off.”
The victory marked the third consecutive season that the Ridgerunners have defeated Stilwell.
Grove goalie Jon Meggyes had ten saves on the night for the Ridgerunners.
The Grove teams open home play today at the football stadium against Poteau. The girls’ game is set to start at 5:00 PM with the boys’ game following.