OKLAHOMA CITY — It almost got away.
Playing on a pitch fractionally wider than a football field, Putnam City North took advantage with throw-in disguised as a corner kick. A Panther put his head on it, knocking the ball into the crossbar. Norman High defender Billy Norlin gave it a kick, but it didn’t clear the traffic in front of the goal mouth. So he did it again.
Finally, the threat was over.
The last 2 minutes were uneventful and the sixth-ranked Tigers (6-2, 2-0 District 6A-1) picked up a huge 1-0 victory over the fourth-ranked Panthers (5-2, 0-1).
“This is a big win for these young guys,” NHS coach Gordon Drummond said. “A big win.”
The game’s only goal was delivered by senior forward Andres Kenney, who worked a bit of a give-and-go with Theodore Ostas 4 minutes before the half.
Kenney dribbled down the right side, found Ostas near the top of the box in the middle of the pitch, and received the ball back from Ostas.
“I saw (the keeper) cheating over anticipating a cross,” Kenney said. “So I shot it front post.”
The Panthers didn’t get a lot of great whacks at the goal down the stretch, but they owned the pressure. The Tigers stood up to it.
“I don’t want to keep pointing out that we (start) five sophomores,” Drummoond said. “But they were so mature tonight. We talked about how we don’t play 40 minutes, but we play 80 minutes, and they really bought into that.”
Norman High girls 2, Putnam City North 1: Norman High had to believe it had the game won Friday night at Putnam City North. Right up until Carla Cabello tied it up 1-1 with 13 seconds remaining.
But the Tigers went from high to low to high again when Gracie Koonce, coming off a hat trick against Putnam City West, dribbled through a trio of Panthers and, with a couple teammates in position to receive a cross, shocked the PCN keeper with a shot on net she could not stop.
“I think the keeper was probably expecting a cross,” NHS coach Tyler Hardage said. “It was a very tough angle.”
The Tigers (5-3-1, 2-1 District 6A-1) entered unranked, but that could change after topping the No. 9 Panthers (4-3, 0-1).
“I think our girls worked incredibly hard,” Hardage said. “I was really proud of their resilience after (the Panthers) scored the tying goal.
Norman North boys 4, Edmond Memorial 0: Brandon Little Axe was at it again Friday night on the North pitch. The Timberwolves’ goal-scoring machine put four more into the twine against Edmond Memorial (2-3, 1-1 District 6A-2).
He had help on all of them, as Mauro Cichero, Cole Johnson, Matt Kaufmann and Michael Henke each contributed an assist
“They lost a player and it really opened up a lot of space in the game,” North coach Geo Claros said. “We had a great effort from Brandon, but we were able to create a lot more stuff … It was a handful for (Memorial).”
Ranked No. 2, North (6-0, 1-0) remained perfect.