NORMAN — Norman High soccer coach Tyler Hardage said it this way:
“It’s fun when stuff like that happens.”
So it was.
Because late in regulation it was Gracie Koonce who corralled control of the ball inside Southmoore’s penalty box before being clipped to the ground. While Koonce was slow to get up, Hardage chose Kinsleigh Robb to attempt the penalty kick. She went low and right, right where Southmoore keeper Jennifer Starwalt thought she’d go with it.
Of course, given Hardage’s comment, who do you think gave the Tigers their 1-0 victory over the SaberCats?
The ball was played down the right flank by Lara Haring-Lovett. Koonce controlled it near even with the right edge of the penalty box, yet several yards above it. She put the ball on her left foot and played it toward the far left-edge of the net where Starwalt couldn’t begin to reach it.
A goal-scorer’s goal.
“I was thinking golden goal,” said Koonce, whose tally came in the 97th minute, with 3:19 left in the second overtime that’s reserved only for deadlocked district foes. “We had to get that one goal and it was over … I didn’t want to go to PKs.”
The victory continues a dramatic push from the Tigers that began with their second district game, a 6-1 victory over Putnam City North. Beginning that night, NHS has outscored its opponents 24-1.
“I think we had a reality check with the losses that we had in (pre-district games). We learned what we had to fix and we saw what our strengths and weaknesses are,” NHS’ Sofia Alvarez said. “And even though we started off really rocky, we’ve got through it and now that we’re getting momentum, it’s not going to stop here.”