The Norman Transcript

May 17, 2014

Amazing run, historic win immortalizes Timberwolves

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — In 2000, the Sooners had Red October. In 2014 the Norman North girls had, what, Magical May?

Honestly, it doesn’t work, not really. It’s too cornball, too forced, too pretentious and there’s nothing worse than that. And still, think about it. This is a group that made history, and not merely in the way sportswriters talk about a team making history every time it wins a championship.

Just step back and look at the body of work, because it’s not entirely clear we’ve ever seen anything like it.

“As soon as we played Southmoore and we didn’t stoop down to their level,” T-Wolves defender Simone Ryan said, “I knew we had a chance.”

The North girls, who first reached the state title game in 1999, but did not do it again until 2014, claimed the program’s first state championship Friday with a 3-0 victory over Edmond Memorial.

And just maybe, for all the state soccer titles won previously in this town — four by the North boys, four by the NHS boys, seven by the NHS girls — none came with as dominant a postseason run as the one North just finished at John Crain Field.

The T-Wolves beat Southmoore 5-0, beat McGuinness 1-0, beat Broken Arrow 1-0, beat Memorial 3-0. 

It’s hard to give up fewer goals than zero and, in the two 1-0 games, the T-Wolves outshot the Irish 7-1 and the Tigers 10-5.

It’s something to think about. And, even if there’s been a better playoff run somewhere in the past, what North did to find its best game, when it really mattered, over and over and over again is still nothing short of inspiring.

“The best part is doing it with this group of girls, honestly,” coach Don Rother said. “When our senior class came in, they kind of year-by-year improved, and kind of turned our program into something that’s really respected and kind of set an example for all the young players who were coming in and set the bar very high … There’s no other group that I would rather be here doing this with than this group and I truly mean it.”

North put on a clinic against Memorial.

About any other day, Haley Woodard would have had a hat trick rather than a single goal, Sheridan Spelman would have added a tally from point-blank range and the penalty kick Francesca Ryan appeared to earn in the first half, when she was pulled down by a defender, wouldn’t have been waved off after consultation between referee and linesman. 

So that’s, what, four more goals the T-Wolves could have easily scored?

Maybe some teams simply know so well they’re a team a of destiny that, guess what, they become a team of destiny.

“When you know, you know,” Ryan said.

Senior defender Bri Kuestersteffen said the T-Wolves “knew it was our last opportunity.”

Goalkeeper Kali Newman said it was “mainly because we’re all seniors; now’s the time, it’s now or never and we took that out there.”

Woodard said the T-Wolves “wanted to gain respect from our boys team and the school and the state. I think we had a lot to prove.”

North outshot Memorial 17-8. The only difficult save Newman had to make came with 3:10 remaining, when Laramie Hall offered the Bulldogs their best chance to get on the board about 27 minutes after North had already began its celebration. North not only couldn’t be beat, it couldn’t be slowed, contained or even brought back to earth.

One of the most interesting moments in sports comes when a player or program ceases to be one thing and becomes something new. And that’s exactly what the North girls did once the playoffs arrived.

When the time came, the T-Wolves got it, delivered and, you better believe it, made history.

They are what they’ve become. 

How cool is that?

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning


Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.