By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Armando Gutierrez scored two goals, Felix Mora added a third and the Enid Plainsmen soccer team won its season opener 3-2 Tuesday against visiting Sand Springs at D. Bruce Selby Stadium.
Gutierrez, who was expected to begin the game on the bench, was added to the starting lineup earlier Tuesday when freshman forward Pedro Braga, who was in line to start, was used as a reserve due to a sore hamstring.
“It feels really good,” Gutierrez said. “At first, I was a little nervous, but I got the hang of it, and it was like, ‘Let’s go.’”
“Armando, that was just big time,” said Enid coach Craig Liddell. “He wasn’t even going to start tonight … He went in, jumped in the starting position, and two beauties. I’m so excited for him.”
Gutierrez opened scoring in the ninth minute after taking a pass past one Sand Springs defender and shooting across his body into the bottom left corner to put Enid up 1-0.
Sand Springs didn’t earn its first shot until the 25th minute, a high shot that Enid goalkeeper Victor Hernandez tipped over the crossbar.
Enid, which lost 4-1 to Sand Springs in last season’s opener, outshot the Sandites 8-5 in the first half, putting five on net compared to the Sandites’ two, and Gutierrez scored his second in the 41st minute, when senior midfielder Edgar Delgadillo rifled a low cross through the Sand Springs 6-yard box that Gutierrez easily chipped in.
“It was really a team effort,” Liddell said. “The passing and the moving, which we’ve worked so hard on and is our brand of soccer, it was just so exciting to see the guys on the field play with confidence and get the ball around and create the chances we did. Three’s good scoring, but it really, genuinely could have been five, six, seven. But we’re so happy to get off to a great start.”
Sand Springs answered two minutes later, when Enid couldn’t clear the front of its net and Tre Betts scored from in close on the Sandites’ fourth shot on net.
Felix Mora stole a pass between Sand Springs defenders and scoring in the left corner 15 yards from the left post.
Mora’s goal turned out to be the game-winner, as Sand Springs narrowed the margin to 3-2 on an overhead pass that Stormy Leonard finished in the 67th minute. Sand Springs had two chances to equalize but Enid stopped both, first when defender Jesus Camarena dispossessed a hard-charging Betts in the 77th minute and again after a scramble to clear the Plainsmen’s net in the 78th minute.
SAND SPRINGS 3, ENID 1 (G)
The Pacers struggled to keep the ball out of their own end in their season opener against Sand Springs, and when they did, they couldn’t solve Lady Sandite keeper Jordan Wong, losing 3-1 Tuesday at D. Bruce Selby Stadium.
The Pacers matched Sand Springs in scoring chances, putting seven shots on net, but the Lady Sandites rarely gave Enid multiple looks at Wong, keeping the ball in Enid’s half and attempting 20 shots to the Pacers’ 10 overall.
“We broke down four, five times and let them have opportunities, and three of them are in the back of the net,” Liddell said. “We got behind them five or six times, and one of them went in the back of the net, but none of our one-on-ones with the keeper. They’ve got to be buried. If we’re putting them away, we’re right in the game.”
Sand Springs opened scoring in the 17th minute when Marissa Barrett’s shot deflected in off defender Claudia Huerta’s leg, and again in the 35th minute, when an Enid corner ricocheted almost to midfield and Lady Sandite reserve Shania Fairchilds took the unlucky bounce end-to-end and beat Pacer goalkeeper Eva Trostle to her left.
Sophie Holle had two one-on-one chances against Wong in the first half, and had a third in the 42nd minute, but Wong covered the ball on a heavy Holle touch.
Four minutes later, Sand Springs’ Kayla Turner took a high overhead pass past Enid’s back line and chipped the ball over a closing Trostle.
“They got behind us a little,” Enid defender Sarah Blakley said. “We could always blame it on the fact that we’ve been off for a while, but really, we were much better at connecting in the second half than we were in the beginning. It was definitely a winnable game, but our defense slipped up a couple times.”
Enid dominated the final 30 minutes, but only scored once, when Holle fired an 18-yard shot from almost the left corner to finally beat Wong in the 49th minute.
Shelley Mueller tried to roof a shot from 8 yards on an Enid corner in the 56th minute but missed high, and a Holle shot from 15 yards beat Wong’s outstretched hands but snuck over the crossbar.
“The fact that we were making the chances was positive,” Liddell said. “As long they keep coming, we’ll get more goals.”
Enid (0-1) hosts Del City on Friday, the Pacers’ and Plainsmen’s homecoming and coaches appreciation night. The Pacers are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. after a 4:30 junior varsity game, followed by the Plainsmen at 8 p.m.