NORMAN — The Norman High and Norman North boys played an absolute classic March 12 at Oklahoma’s John Crain Field.
Friday night at North’s pitch, in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A playoffs, they played something well beyond.
The Celtics and the Suns played The Greatest Game Ever Played in the 1976 NBA finals. Herb Brooks’ U.S. Hockey team had its Miracle on Ice. Bobby Thompson hit The Shot Heard Round the World so Russ Hodges could scream “The Giants win the pennant” six times.
This Crosstown Clash may need a name, too.
The Timberwolves lost the shootout on the Sooner pitch in March, but turned the tables on the Tigers Friday, gaining a 2-1 decision, also by virtue of a shootout.
Only the shootout NHS won required the two teams combine to send 10 kickers into the penalty box to decided it. The shootout North won demanded they send 24.
Andrew Arledge delivered the Tigers back in March. This time it was North’s Daniel Taylor who, eventually, won it for the T-Wolves, who will be in Owasso Tuesday night trying to reach the Class 6A state final, set for Broken Arrow exactly one week from today.
For NHS, in succession after Haydn Jones was stopped by Taylor and Zac Terry fired it off the right post, it was Billy Norlin, Theo Ostas, Matt Tidwell, Jorge Briones, Omar Ramirez, Reed Shafer-Ray, Milton Cruz, Thomas Grzybowski and Tidwell again, converting past Taylor, before it was Taylor stopping Ostas, the second time around, to win the game.
For North, it was Mauro Cichero, Jacob Jerles and Austin Bray putting the T-Wolves momentarily up 3-0 in the shootout before Alredge stoned Garrett Gibbs and Curtis McCrae shot over the crossbar. But the T-Wolves didn’t miss again, getting conversions from Ethan Dvorak, Matt Gann, Sage Moore, Carson Cacciatori, Luke Moore, Cichero again and Bray again.
Cichero had the North goal in regulation, putting away a penalty kick 14 seconds before the half when the Tigers were called for hands inside the box. NHS, which failed to convert on a couple of second-half crosses that were more dangerous than anything North mounted in the flow of the game, scored the equalizer when Matt Hockett got higher than everybody else to flick a header, off an Ostas’ corner kick, past Taylor.
The first overtime took about 15 minutes to play as the game was stopped several times for cramping players. If NHS was fighting North’s recent playoff history and the Timberwolves were deflecting yet another upset bid from the Tigers, both sides were simply playing a game of attrition by the end.
North owned the possession advantage most of the first half, but that was the only time the T-Wolves looked like the dominant team. The second half was end to end until the end, when it the Tigers dominated the last 10 or 15 minutes. North finished the second overtime with a 9-6 shot advantage.
In 200 minutes of soccer against each other this season, each side scored a single goal. In two shootouts that counted a collective 34 attempts, each side converted 13 times and failed four.
The variable is time.
NHS won in March.
North won in May.
The T-Wolves keep going.
What a rivalry.
What a game.
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