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Victory Christian boys and girls soccer teams determined to take the final step this season

Victory opens Class 3A postseason play with successful sweep at home

By Christian Potts 

TULSA - After coming close to the crown in 2022, the girls and boys soccer programs at Victory Christian School are hungry to go all the way this spring.

Each took a positive first step Monday night with first-round victories on the opening night of the playoffs for Classes 3A and 4A. The Conquerors took down Commerce, 3-0, while the Victory Christian girls defeated Riverfield Country Day, 2-0.

Victory Christian 3, Commerce 0 (boys)

The senior-laden Conquerors put on a furious six-minute display in the middle of the first half, scoring all three of their goals and the only goals they'd need on a dominating defensive evening against the visitors from northeast Oklahoma.

Jordan Brown scored two goals and Toye Taiwo added a third as Victory cruised into the second round and an upcoming date on Thursday against Summit Christian, a 4-0 winner against Bristow.

"It's good to have good senior leaders, and we've got to make the most of what we can this year," said Brown, part of that experienced group for the Conquerors. "We have expectations because we know we can get far, and we've got to keep working."

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Brown's goals both came off of corner kicks, the first a boot after the ball was played in by Ramses Martinez, and the second a header off the top of his 6-foot-5 frame from right in the goal mouth after a perfectly played ball by Ethan Kloehr, who also assisted on Taiwo's goal.

Perhaps more important on this night was the defense the Conquerors played. A potent Commerce offense was kept in check, managing just six shots in the contest to 19 for the home team.

"Our back line's been really good all year long," said coach Scott Branan. "We've had to shuffle some things around because of some injuries, but every time we've shuffled, they've done their job and they've continued to get better. I'm proud of that group."

The Victory boys scored two playoff victories last year before Heritage Hall ended their run with a tough 1-0 semifinal defeat. This year has been up and down in the win column for Victory, leading to a somewhat deceiving record of only 9-7.

VC had a five-game losing streak in late March that included falling to all playoff teams, including two from Class 5A. Since then, their only losses came to the junior varsity squads from 6A powers Owasso and Broken Arrow.

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They ended up tied for first in District 3A-4 with Heavener, who got the No. 1 seed via its overtime win against the Conquerors in late March.

"We knew that we had a tough road all year long, and we knew that was going to make us better and prepare us for the playoffs and it has, this was a good Commerce team that we beat (Monday)," Branan said. "This group's been through a lot of trials this year, and I'm proud of them for where they are.

"They're fantastic young men, and they just want to get better everyday and work. We've got to get better, and we will."

Commerce has spring sports notoriety on the baseball diamond as the hometown of the legendary Mickey Mantle. But the school actually has had a much better 2023 season on the soccer field, compiling a winning record and finishing in a three-way tie for second place in District 3A-3.

The Tigers finished their season at 5-5.

Victory Christian 2, Riverfield Country Day 0 (girls)

The Victory girls rolled to last year's Class 3A championship game, a run that included a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory against Oklahoma Christian School in the semifinal round. But like with the Victory boys squad, it was Oklahoma City Heritage Hall that dashed the Lady Conquerors' championship hopes with a 3-1 victory in last year's state title match.

They're looking to find their way deep into the playoffs behind a team featuring several young stars, none more important than sophomore Genesis Helsley. The speedy forward tallied goals in the 5th and 20th minute; then the Lady Conquerors' defense, led by senior Mary Buechler, kept Riverfield out of the net the rest of the way.

Both goals were similar, with Helsley using her speed to make strong runs and powering home right-footed shots.

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Helsley narrowly missed on multiple other chances, as did freshman Eden Edwards, the most notable a blast from about 30 yards out on the right side about 10 minutes before halftime that narrowly carried above the crossbar.

Riverfield was part of a three-way tie for second place in District 3A-3, but ended up with the No. 4 seed on the goal differential tiebreaker. Despite the rough start, the Ravens battled all night and particularly in the second half, when they outshot Victory 6-4, largely on the play of sophomore Reese Covey, who was a force in the midfield throughout.

The win boosts Victory to 10-4 on the season ahead of a second-round contest at home against Sequoyah-Claremore on Thursday night. The Eagles went on the road and defeated Verdigris, 3-0, Monday night.