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.
“I really haven't thought about it that way,” forward/midfielder Spencer Hall said. “I guess it's kind of sad, but it's motivating us to try to keep it going for as long as we can.”
“You always worry about it being your last game,” forward/midfielder Blake Williams said. “You 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.”
The Pirates suffered two heartbreaking losses earlier this season to Fort Gibson and Heavener, but ended the regular season 7-3 — including a three-game winning streak to enter the postseason. Still, there's room for improvement.
“It (the two key district losses) made us pull together more, and work harder,” defender Hong Siu said. “We 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.”
The Pirates will face an Indian team which beat Cushing earlier this week to earn the runner-up spot in their district — and entertain Poteau tonight to begin the postseason. The Pirates have done some scouting of tonight's opponent.
“ They're a pretty physical team,” Williams said. “But if they get down, coach (Neto Silva) described them as a team that gets angered easily.”
The Pirates made it to the Class 4A state quarterfinals last season before being eliminated by Tulsa Cascia Hall. They hope to go further — hopefully, as far as bringing a state championship home.
“That's motivating us a lot,” forward/midfielder Jesse Woodson said. “We wanted to get better this year — we want to get better each year. We've been working hard to do that.”
For one senior Alex Schmidt, he's just now getting a taste of soccer.
“You have to rise to the occasion,” he said. “Two games ago (Monday night's Westville game) was my first game. So, I have to do my best to get a starting spot.”
In Tuesday night's homecoming win over Hilldale, Schmidt scored the game's final goal on a penalty kick — 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.
“My 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,” he said.