NORMAN — For maybe the first time in more than a decade, the Norman North girls played a playoff game entirely worthy of a state-title contender.
There was no let-up, no let-down and no lack of consistent effort. It was fun in the way playing like a machine is fun. Or maybe the fun came before the game.
“Our freshman year, we dyed our hair with Kool-aid,” junior defender Rachel Gipson said. “So we just wanted to do something fun.”
As a show of solidarity, each member of the team braided one side of her hair, tight to the front of her scalp.
The result, assuming the braiding played a role, was a 5-0 victory over Southmoore on the first night of Class 6A soccer’s postseason. The victory earns North a 6 p.m. home-pitch shot at McGuinness in Friday’s quarterfinal round.
North picked up a goal from Lexi Carroll just a few short minutes into the game. Four second-half tallies followed from Francesca Ryan, who headed home a rebound; Bri Kuestersteffen, who finished off a corner kick; Yazmeen Ryan, who drilled home a 36-yard laser; and Blakely Bynum, who cleaned up the garbage after a scramble in front of the SaberCat net.
North goalkeeper Kali Newman didn’t have to make a save to post a shutout. Meanwhile, Southmoore (6-6) keeper Jennifer Starwalt had to make 12 saves just to limit the T-Wolves to their five goals. North outshot Southmoore 23 to zero.
The T-Wolves played like a team on a mission.
“The playoffs bring so much momentum,” said Newman, who thought the first half, at least, when North had to fight through a heavy wind, was better than her team had played all season. “We have to take it to the next level. It’s now or never.”