NORMAN — Maybe the biggest loss felt by any of Norman’s soccer teams from last season to this one was that of Norman High’s Andres Kenney, who seemed to be everywhere on the field his last two Tiger seasons, always coming up big when the moment demanded.
Matt Hockett’s trying to fill the void.
“I’m going to try my best,” the junior midfielder (and football receiver and kicker) said, “to take over that leadership.”
Part of that is being a guy people listen to. Part of it is delivering. Hockett delivered in Tuesday night’s season opener, pushing the Tigers past Moore 1-0.
Playing with nothing under his short-sleeve jersey on a frigidly cold night, Hockett was unaffected as he lined up a free kick just outside the Lion penalty box, a little to Moore keeper James McNew’s right.
“I definitely wanted to put it in,” Hockett said. “We needed something to turn things around.”
The wall of Lions lined up in front of Hockett could only watch the ball come screaming around it. While the ball may have been to McNew’s left when it swirled around the wall, it finished to his right. On either side, he didn’t get a hand on it.
“Absolutely brilliant,” NHS coach Gordon Drummond described it.
Though there was no assist, Paul Starr deserved one, because he was the one who was pulled down by the Moore defense on one of the several threats he was in the middle of.
It was Starr, too, who put the Tigers in front in the first place, getting the second touch, a knee, off a corner kick 17 minutes into the first half. Jorge Briones took the kick and Hayden Jones moved it to Starr.
There were times the Tigers appeared too intent upon proving the deftness of their ball skills, rather than those skills to attack. Nonetheless, they attacked plenty and outshot the Lions 17-5. Working the middle of the field, though passes, not crosses, were the order of the night.