There was a lot of pushing and shoving, a lot of jersey pulling, but if that’s gamesmanship, the Rams eventually treated it like the old National Hockey League, when sending some kind of physical message became the point just as soon as victory appeared out of reach.
Carson Cacciatore was taken down hard by Owasso’s Chaz Birkenfeld early in the second half. A free kick and yellow card came with it, though red might have been warranted. But the interesting thing was, as referee Jack Damrill untangled the wreckage, how North’s Cole Johnson was in the face of about five Rams and not backing up.
“I have to step in there and even things out,” Johnson said, though his coach may have said it better.
“Cole’s going to be in the middle of it,” Claros said. “He’s got fire in him and that’s why I love the kid.”
Birkenfeld was eventually red-carded for pulling down Mauro Cichero in the final minutes, so score one for soccer karma.
The worst of it from the Rams came with 13:09 remaining when Colton Johnson, according to T-Wolves on the scene, basically leaned into and put a fist or forearm into the mouth of senior North defender Adam Cooper.
Damrill took one look at Cooper and hurried the North training staff onto the field and this time it was Cichero looking like he was ready to take on about five Rams and it was the Rams who were backing up. Eventually, the linesmen sprinted toward midfield to break up the jawing, yet it was another example of Timberwolves sticking up for Timberwolves.
Cooper left the field a couple minutes later with a mouth full of blood and a couple of dislodged teeth.
“Since Day 1, it’s been a family,” Cichero said. “Any time you disrespect me, my coaches or any of my teammates, I’m not going to let you get away with it.”