By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
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.
The reason Hockett felt he had to turn things around was Moore’s John Perkins, who, given a little space to unload from almost 40 yards away, lofted a perfect ball Tiger keeper Andrew Arledge had no chance to stop.
Because of that, Drummond had to sweat the victory for a while. Still, he was pleased with the final product.
“I thought we were very strong,” he said. “You hold a team to five shots and that’s really impressive. Moore is a very, very improved team.”
Strong enough to make the Tigers even, until Hockett stepped up to the moment.
Norman High girls 5, Moore 1: The Tigers already had three games in the books thanks to their season-opening trip to Arkansas. Still, it felt like an opener for coach Tyler Hardage.
“There were fans in the crowd, the girls were at school today, there was a different energy to it,” Hardage said.
It seemed like it on the field as NHS needed just 9 minutes to establish its first lead and 20 more minutes to make it 2-0. Moore answered before the half was over but the Tigers added three more post-intermission tallies.
Senior Lauren Goodman led NHS by assisting on the game’s first two goals and scoring the next two. Gracie Koonce, Tana Stevens and Sofia Alvarez also scored for the Tigers.
“It was a good win,” Hardage said. “I think we’ve been making improvements every time we step on the field.
Follow me @clayhorning
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