They’re no strangers to state championships, the Poteau Boys Soccer team is on a quest for their second state title.
“Man, it’s been a tremendous season,” Poteau coach Neto Silva said. “We took the number one seed mid last year, and we haven’t lost it yet. So, we’ve been number one since we played Fort Gibson last year.”
It’s been almost a perfect year for the Pirates, just one loss on the season, and they are on their way to playoffs. The pirates lost nine seniors from their state championship team a year ago, but they were confident going into the season.
“The depth. We’ve won a lot of games because we have such a tremendous bench that can come in and keep the level of play, and the footwork that we do all the time.”
But there has to be some pressure of defending their title and having such a great season.
“There’s always an expectation you’re at least going to get back to the game,” Kendrick Hardaway, senior said. “The team we played in the state championship last year, looks like they are going to be on the same side of the bracket this year. So we may meet them in the semifinals.”
What does it take to keep such a high level of soccer in a small town? These boys say it’s what takes place on the field between them.
“A lot of hard work trusting each other, and for us to play at the best of our ability,” Edwin Espinoza, senior said.
And it’s easy for these players to trust one another.
“We’ve all grown up together,” Ashby Clark, junior said. “We’ve played at the Four County soccer league out there. We’ve all played together for, since like second grade or so. since we were really small.”
Poteau isn’t worried about having a target on their back. They’ve got a game plan, and if they stick to it, they believe they can win again.
“Keep our focus, play our game, and let the other team worry about us,” Silva said. “Since we have been there before, we can use our experience to win it.”