NORMAN — Norman North kept knocking at the door all night, yet the scoreboard at John Crain Field kept showing zeroes, as arch-rival Norman High kept turning away the Timberwolves’ advances.
But the Timberwolves finally broke through in the 62nd minute, with junior Lexi Carroll’s shot just drifting over the outstretched reach of NHS keeper Hannah Mohr and under the crossbar, leading North to an eventual 2-0 victory Tuesday in the latest edition of the Crosstown Clash.
“It was a really difficult game,” said North’s Blakley Bynum, who scored the T-Wolves’ second goal. “We just hung in there and kept our composure really well.”
The Timberwolves outshot the Tigers 14-8 but had to deal with a stingy Tiger defense that included seven saves from Mohr, a freshman in her first Clash action.
North controlled the play most of the first half, outshooting the Tigers 7-1. Its best chances came in the second minute, when Carroll hit the crossbar, and in the 27th minute, when Mackenzie Marquardt’s header off Carroll’s corner was turned aside by Mohr.
But NHS found some momentum just before halftime and for about the first 15 minutes of the second half. Its best chances came when Lauren Goodman was turned away early in the second half on a couple of good runs.
But, ultimately, it was Carroll who helped retake the territorial control for the Timberwolves, as they’d had most of the night, and finally gave them the lead just 18 minutes from the end.
Even after the score, the Tigers still weren’t done, coming back a minute later and nearly getting the equalizer, as a similar try for the top corner by Asha Haile was narrowly turned away by North keeper Kali Newman.
Shortly after that, North got its insurance goal as Bynum scored in traffic on a rebound after Carroll hit the crossbar.
“Lexi took a great shot, and I was just there in the perfect spot,” Bynum said.
Norman High Coach Tyler Hardage lauded his team’s defensive effort, as well as the way the Tigers hung tough even after North finally cracked the scoreboard.
“It’s a tough game once you’ve given up a goal, but I’m proud of how we kept competing all the way to the end,” Hardage said.
“I told the girls at the beginning, I love this game, not for the game itself but for how you respond to this game after it’s over.”
For a second year in a row, the game was played at the University of Oklahoma, combining the atmosphere of one of the city’s biggest sporting events of the year with the look and size of a collegiate facility.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Bynum said. “It’s hectic. The support that we have from our fans is so great.”
North improved to a 3-0 start to the season, while the Tigers dropped to 4-2.