Though possession was close, it was also clear, maybe 15 or 20 minutes into the second half, that Owasso wasn’t coming back and the Rams appeared to know it better than anybody.
Soon enough, their play turned chippy, the biggest example being the blow delivered by Colton Johnson that robbed North senior defender Adam Cooper, at least momentarily, of a couple of teeth.
The referee missed that one, but caught Ram defender Chaz Birkenfield blatantly pulling Cichero down from behind, earning a red card late in the second half.
Though nobody might have known, North scored the only goal it would need just 2:51 into the game.
Johnson’s free kick was cleared by the Ram defense, only to have the ball come bounce toward Liddell, who didn’t bother to stop it before re-serving it directly to the head of Moore, who flicked it expertly past Owasso keeper Daniel Finkle.
“They left me wide open and Seth just hit it right to me,” Moore said.
Less than 71⁄2 minutes later Johnson was playing a free kick from about 50 yards out and into traffic inside the box. Cichero got higher than everybody, but not high enough to direct so much as stop it. That ball found the foot of Ethan Dvorak, who had to contend with a defender sprawled in front of him. He played the ball over the defender and, after jumping over the Ram, to himself. From there, a scrambling Finkle had no chance to get in the way.
“To be honest, the goals we did score were probably the more difficult goals. We could have shut the door on them a little earlier in the second half … but their keeper came up big and we just missed.”
Precilla made four saves, but didn’t have to stand on his head to stop any of the Rams’ offerings. And when a scramble left him out of position, he had the help from Neighbors and Liddell.