NORMAN — The Noble girls played to a school record 14-0 season before meeting Carl Albert in the second round of the playoffs, but the speed of the Titans proved to be too much for the Bears, whose playoff run ended Friday night in a 2-1 home loss.
“We got beat to the ball. We get out-physicaled.” Noble coach Larry Worden said. “Carl Albert did a heck of a job. We never could develop a rhythm offensively.”
After playing to a 0-0 standstill in the first half, Noble had the better of the stat sheet with four shots on goal to Carl Albert’s two and had yet to allow anything too dangerous to develop on the other side. Still, accustomed to controlling possession, Noble looked out of sync trying to play a faster game, while Carl Albert used the wings to create increasingly promising chances.
“We easily posses the ball quite a bit and they just took that game away from us,” Worden said.
After allowing only one goal all season, the Bears gave up two in this game.
The first came in the seventh minute of the second half when Carl Albert midfielder Courtney Essary made a steal, raced down the left sideline and found a cutting Brooklyn Spics with a 30-yard through ball. Spics took a touch and beat Noble keeper Hanna Slaymaker in the top right corner.
Carl Albert had found its stride in the relentless Essary who put the Bears on the back foot for the next 10 minutes with pacey runs down the left wing.
“She killed us. We just couldn’t catch her,” Worden said.
The Bears looked tired, and desperation was on the radar.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining, the Bears found their chance in a 30-yard free kick.
Julie Ann Williamson became the hero, smashing the ball just inside the left post and just through the hands of Carl Albert’s Janessa Egler.
“I thought the game had changed again and it had,” Worden said. “The momentum had shifted, we were starting to attack,” Worden said. “Again, it’s nothing pretty... just grind it out, go get it and try to make something out of it.”
But it wasn’t enough. It was Carl Albert’s night to have the hero.
Just three minutes after Williamson’s equalizer Carl Albert won a corner. Essary delivered a cross to the back post and from the pinballing chaos Ruby Arani managed to get her head on the ball.
Down 2-1 with six minutes remaining, Noble battled for a chance, but it never came.
But next year could be just as bullish for the bears. Worden’s team is still young and only losing two starters, senior team captain Sydney David and Emma Gade.
“We brought a whole new tradition to Noble,” David said. “Noble is not known for their sports, but we are now. We’ve got to keep that up.”
“You made history tonight,” Worden told his team. “You set a standard that every team in Noble is going to try to beat or match. You set the bar high. We’re going to get another shot and try and get further next year.”