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Van Fitch's comeback keys Jenks girls soccer's strong start; Broken Arrow wins Alabama tournament
High school soccer notebook

Van Fitch's comeback keys Jenks girls soccer's strong start; Broken Arrow wins Alabama tournament

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Broken Arrow's Alejandro Garcia is soccer athlete of the week

Fitch leads Jenks girls

Senior forward Van Fitch has sparked Jenks’ girls soccer team to a 6-1 start.

After missing her sophomore season in 2019 due to a torn ACL, Fitch was ready for a strong junior year in 2020, scoring three goals and three assists before the season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, she’s making up for lost time, leading the Trojans with 10 goals so far this season, including both goals in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Union.

Over the weekend, Fitch helped Jenks claim the Deer Creek Invitational championship, playing an important role as Jenks defeated Westmoore 6-1 (scoring two goals) and OKC McGuinness 3-0 (one goal) on Friday and then host Edmond Deer Creek 3-1 (two more goals) in the final on Saturday.

“She’s just been on fire,” Trojans coach Jo Johnson said. “We knew it was coming, she did really well her freshman year, she was an all-district player and then two years off. I think she’s finding her groove. We’re lucky to have her out there.”

Fitch, an Arkansas signee, is also a team captain as voted by her teammates, although she’s not necessarily a loud leader.

“She’s one of the most soccer-smart, tactical players that we have, so she’ll coach them up on the field, but not a super-vocal leader, but definitely a leader by example,” Johnson said. “All the girls respect her, just the presence, and what she brings to the field just kind of demands attention. But she’s so humble and down-to-earth, and creative and all those things that you love about a player.”

Other crucial contributors to the Trojans’ success have been forward Quinn Turner and center backs Daisy Solorzano and Hannah Wright.

Jenks has responded well since a frustrating 1-0 loss to Booker T. Washington on March 23, in which the Trojans had 19 shots on goal but couldn’t score.

“It kind of lit a fire under our girls, that urgency that you got to put those away,” Johnson said. “Since then, we rattled off 12 goals this weekend and then got two (Tuesday). Overall, I’ve just been proud of them. Each game, we’re taking different things and patterns that we saw and trying to build on it and fix that in the next one.”

BA boys bond on trip

A trip last week to a tournament in Gulf Shores, Alabama, was a win-win situation for the Broken Arrow boys.

Not only did the Tigers emerge with a 2-0-1 record and the Southern Coast Cup championship, they also were able to accrue valuable team-bonding time.

On the pitch, Broken Arrow faced three Tennessee schools — defeating Houston High School of Germantown 5-2 last Thursday, tying Memphis’ Christian Brothers 1-1 on Friday and beating Station Camp of Gallatin 2-1 on Saturday.

“This is our third time to go and we finally won it this year,” BA coach Shane Schwab said. “It’s always really good competition, so it’s a great victory for us to get the trophy.”

There was also a lot of time for the team to get closer.

“The kids have one game a day, so there’s a lot of down time and it’s a great opportunity to spend time together,” Schwab said. “And that’s a 12-hour bus ride, we get a charter bus, which is pretty comfortable. So they get to know each other and definitely, we’ve seen the team really bond over those last five days, so that’s great to see.”

Forward Alejandro Garcia was a big part of the Tigers’ success, producing three goals and two assists in the three tournament games, including the crucial game-tying penalty kick in the final minute against Christian Brothers that enabled them to win the tournament. Overall, Garcia leads Broken Arrow with six goals and has three assists on the season.

“He’s a really great story,” Schwab said of Garcia. “He’s a foreign exchange kid from Madrid and right now, he’s by far our leading scorer. He’s really a great kid, a great teammate and scoring some big goals for us in big games.”

Other key performers are midfielder Andrew Kruse and center back Greyson Owens.

“Andrew, he’s one of our captains, he’s such a workhorse and a great leader,” Schwab said. “He’s scored a couple of really great goals for us, just his tenacity and quality of play is very consistent. And Greyson has just really solidified our back line. I’d say those three (including Garcia) have really stuck out the most this year.”

The successful weekend leaves the Tigers with a 6-1-1 record, with the only defeat a 3-2 loss to defending (2019) Class 6A state champion Jenks on March 11. After allowing two goals in the opening 10 minutes, Broken Arrow battled back to tie it, only to surrender the game-winner on a PK in the final 10 minutes.

“Jenks is always a good team,” Schwab said. “It was a tough game to lose, but it was a good learning lesson for us, again showing how we always fight back.”

— John Tranchina, for the Tulsa World

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