OKLAHOMA CITY – Coach Nathan Loftiss didn’t want much. In the final game of the Altus girls soccer season, he just wanted his squad to play hard. Even though they had no postseason hopes on the line, he asked his girls to go out and fight.
Despite losing 6-1 to Northwest Classen Thursday night at Taft Stadium, Loftiss got what he wanted.
“I think they gave me everything they had,” Loftiss said. “I know we made a couple of mistakes here and there that we’d like to have back. But I was proud of them, they competed. We gave up a couple at the end when we were letting some younger kids play, but I think we competed and gave them a good game.”
The majority of the first half seemed to be a battle between the Knights Rawaa Ismail and Lady Bulldogs keeper Craigin Steed.
Ismail was on the attack from the outset. She was able to get past the Altus defenders and find room to take shots at the AHS goal. However, Steed was all over the place and was able to deflect or catch any of the shots Ismail got off.
Even the scoring opportunities not involving Ismail, the sophomore was able snuff out. With the help of Hayley Newman and Savannah Ybarra, the Altus defense had NWC under control.
“She is a player,” Loftiss said of Steed. “We’re really glad she moved into the district this year. She has a great attitude and is a real leader on the team. She had a lot of saves.”
The Bulldogs offense got very little action in the first half. Jacqueline Valenzuella had a scoring opportunity erased when the ball was taken from her as she dribbled toward the Knights goal.
Steed’s stonewall finally cracked with 5:32 left in the first half. The Knights Miriam Gonzales was tripped during break away attack. The resulting foul gave her a free kick from 15 yards out.
Gonzalez booted the attempt high and it hit the hands of Steed. The ball deflected in the back of the net for the games first score.
“Overall, I wish I had done better,” Steed said. “But everyone looks back at those games and says they wish they had done something different.”
Classen took a 1-0 advantage into halftime.
Ismail and Steed picked their dual back up with 31 minutes left in the game. Ismail was driving toward the goal with nothing between her and Steed. But she dropped a pass off to Ana Esparaza, and she tried to sneak a shot into the net. But Steed stuck her leg out for the deflection.
The Knights had two more shots on the same possession, but the Altus defense kept them out of the net.
The constant pressure by the Knights finally broke through in the second half when Ismail scored off a deflected shot attempt. They led 2-0 with 25 minutes left.
Gonzales and Ismail each scored again to put the contest away.
Steed wasn’t done for the night. Loftiss took her out of goal and put her in midfield. First thing she did is score for the Bulldogs with 10:30 left on the clock.
But that wasn’t enough to make a dent on the Knights, who scored two more goals to close out the night.
The Lady Bulldogs lose only two seniors to graduation. Despite finishing the season with a 2-13, they believe they can be something special next year.
“My defenders have improved so much over the season. I am really proud of them,” Steed said. “I think overall, they did well. We have things to work on, but next year we’re going to do well.”
Reach Michael Kinney at [email protected]