Once again, the Poteau Pirates soccer team is playoff bound. The 2012 Class 4A playoffs will begin at 7 p.m. tonight on the road against the Catoosa Indians.
For five Pirate seniors, this marks the stretch drive of their high school soccer careers.
â€śI really haven't thought about it that way,â€ť forward/midfielder Spencer Hall said. â€śI guess it's kind of sad, but it's motivating us to try to keep it going for as long as we can.â€ť
â€śYou always worry about it being your last game,â€ť forward/midfielder Blake Williams said. â€śYou just hope the underclassmen step it up. It won't be their last game, but it could be our last game. We seniors hope they realize that.â€ť
The Pirates suffered two heartbreaking losses earlier this season to Fort Gibson and Heavener, but ended the regular season 7-3 â€” including a three-game winning streak to enter the postseason. Still, there's room for improvement.
â€śIt (the two key district losses) made us pull together more, and work harder,â€ť defender Hong Siu said. â€śWe don't want to lose another game. We're really not playing our best right now, and I think we can do better. That's a motivator for us, too.â€ť
The Pirates will face an Indian team which beat Cushing earlier this week to earn the runner-up spot in their district â€” and entertain Poteau tonight to begin the postseason. The Pirates have done some scouting of tonight's opponent.
â€ś They're a pretty physical team,â€ť Williams said. â€śBut if they get down, coach (Neto Silva) described them as a team that gets angered easily.â€ť
The Pirates made it to the Class 4A state quarterfinals last season before being eliminated by Tulsa Cascia Hall. They hope to go further â€” hopefully, as far as bringing a state championship home.
â€śThat's motivating us a lot,â€ť forward/midfielder Jesse Woodson said. â€śWe wanted to get better this year â€” we want to get better each year. We've been working hard to do that.â€ť
For one senior Alex Schmidt, he's just now getting a taste of soccer.
â€śYou have to rise to the occasion,â€ť he said. â€śTwo games ago (Monday night's Westville game) was my first game. So, I have to do my best to get a starting spot.â€ť
In Tuesday night's homecoming win over Hilldale, Schmidt scored the game's final goal on a penalty kick â€” after strong urging by his teammates and fans for Silva to use him for the attempt. It was true, which made Schmidt feel good since his first goal was disallowed.
â€śMy first goal was taken away because they called us for offside, but my guys let me take the penalty kick because I didn't get my first goal,â€ť he said.