Entering Monday, the Norman High boys did not entirely control their postseason fate.
They could only win, which they did, rolling over Edmond Santa Fe 3-0.
The NHS girls held fate in their hand. They or Santa Fe would get the last playoff spot in District 6A-1.
Via a goal scored minutes into the game and a score that remained unchanged the rest of the way, the Tigers fell 1-0 and will miss the playoffs.
• Tigers prevail: The NHS boys had to know their playoff fate was unlikely to come down to margin points.
A function of goal-differential, they’re what decide three-way ties when each of the teams has gone 1-1 against the the others.
That could have happened had Yukon gone on the road and knocked off Putnam City Monday, but it was unlikely given the arc of the Pirates’ and Millers’ seasons. Indeed, precisely because P.C. topped Yukon, NHS’ hopes are now wrapped up in tonight’s regular-season finale between Northwest Classen and Putnam City.
If it’s the Knights, the Tigers reach the playoffs by virtue of their 1-0 victory over the Pirates. If it’s the Pirates, the Tigers are out by virtue of their 2-1 shootout loss to the Knights.
The beauty of Monday, though, was NHS played as though every goal counted and, in so doing, netted three, tying a season high reached only against winless-in-district Midwest City.
“We had too many shootouts and too many one-goal games,” Tiger coach Gordon Drummond said. “And tonight, we showed just how well we can play. It’s too bad we couldn’t turn it on a little sooner.”
NHS wasted no time, scoring what would stand up as the game winner just 2:06 in, when Diego Leal picked Angel Velasco’s corner kick out of the air with his right foot, smoking a volley past Santa Fe keeper Gavin Greenwood.
About 20 minutes later it was Jackson McKay, off a deft dink of a cross from Alvaro Gonzalez, burying it past Greenwood.
Leal added a second goal less than 3 minutes into the second half. Reminiscent of McKay’s tally, the short cross came from Asa Bonner and all Leal had to do was deflect it home.
“The things we’ve been trying to do offensively, we did,” Drummond said. “We haven’t been a goal-scoring team for sure, but the three goals we got were really nice.”
The Tigers improved to 5-7 overall and 4-3 in district play.
Depending upon what happens at Taft Stadium tonight, they’re bound to finish tied for fourth in the district with the loser, Northwest or P.C. If it’s P.C., they’re still playing.
• Tigers stopped: It was only a few minutes into the game when an Edmond Santa Fe push resulted in a flurry of corner kicks.
The NHS girls kept surviving the threat, yet kept not eliminating it. Finally, Santa Fe’s Grace Hepner found Kenley Stockton, who poked the ball past NHS keeper Luci Flores.
The Tigers owned possession for most of the rest of the game. And because Flores came up with the save of the season with 10:50 remaining, leaning left only to dive back to right and stop Haylie Walters’ redirection, the Tigers had chances to force overtime to the end.
The best opportunity belonged to Brooke Goodman, who couldn’t quite find the ball from about 12 yards with 2:15 remaining.
Earlier, just before the half, NHS’ Indigo Koch sent a penalty kick over the crossbar.
The Wolves improved to 4-7 and 4-3 in the district, securing the final playoff spot behind Norman North, Deer Creek and Yukon. The Tigers fell to 5-9 and 3-4.