By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It can be a game of luck and slight advantages and the Norman High girls learned it the hard way Friday night at Harve Collins Field.
With a pair of goals from Oklahoma State signee Courtney Dike, Edmond North not only claimed a 2-0 victory over the Tigers, but very likely a District 6A-1 championship and the home-field advantage the first two weeks of the playoffs it affords.
NHS scored first, never quit and got better as the game went along, limiting the Huskies to four second-half shots after allowing seven in the first.
Also, the Tigers could hardly corral possession on Edmond North’s side of the field and, after netting the opening tally, struggled mightily to put more than a couple of passes together.
“They had a large amount of people in the middle,” NHS forward Lauren Goodman said, “and we weren’t prepared to turn and play it forward.”
At least it seemed like it.
“They were playing a diamond in the midfield,” NHS coach Tyler Hardage said. “If we could have had possession like I wanted us to, we could have exploited it out wide.”
It never happened.
If the Huskies weren’t the quicker and faster team on the field, they were the team that anticipated best on the field.
Still, it was NHS jumping out to a lead when a series of one-touches between Tana Stevens, Gracie Koonce and Goodman put NHS on top 1-0 with a goal that demanded all three to be just right to get the ball past Edmond North keeper Genevieve Simmons.
Goodman’s goal was answered 30 minutes later, 3 minutes before the half, after NHS’ Sofia Alvarez was called for a hand-ball inside the penalty box.
Dike buried the penalty kick to tie the game and, only 3:13 in the second half, converted unassisted inside the box, carrying the ball through most of the Tiger defense before beating Tiger keeper Hannah Mohr a second time.
It was just one of many times the Huskies’ ability to get to the ball a fraction faster than the Tigers led to sustained possession followed by a threat to the net. All those fractions added up to a single Edmond North goal, but it was the difference in the game.
Though beaten twice, it was Mohr’s goalkeeping that kept the Tigers in it to the end.
She robbed Dike 6 minutes before the half and kept it a one-goal when she robbed Grace Brennan with 7:30 remaining. Then, she stoned Dike yet again, stopping a screaming 18-yard free kick with 4:55 remaining.
“She made some great saves,” Hardage said.
The No. 8 Tigers fell to 6-3 and 2-1 in the district while the fourth-ranked Huskies improved to 9-2 and 4-0.
NHS’ challenge is to not lose again, leaving it to finish no worse than second in the district and secure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“It was an important game,” Hardage said, “but we’re still in a very good position in our district.”
Follow me @clayhorning
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