Among the things you hardly ever see on the pitch, two of them happened Tuesday night at Bryan Young Memorial Field.
One of them happened to the Norman North girls. The other happened by one of them and for them, handing them their 3-2 Class 6A round-of-16 playoff victory over Southmoore.
Just inside the first half’s 37th minute, not long after Norman North’s Presslee Amick — without being whistled for an infraction — appeared to pull a Sabercat to the ground after the two jostled for the ball, play stopped and the referee conferred with the linesman on the opposite side of the field, maybe 75 yards from the incident involving Amick.
He then ran across the pitch and conferred with the opposite linesman, after which he walked toward Amick and presented her with a red card.
A stunner, she’d not received a card of any color prior to that moment. Though it appeared she’d gotten away with an infraction, it also appeared to be the type of frustration play that tends to draw yellow and a talking to, not red.
Then, if it wasn’t clear North would struggle to get calls on the first night of the playoffs already, the T-Wolves were hit with a foul inside the box less than 40 seconds later, a state of affairs that led to Southmoore’s Kylie Strotman converting a penalty kick, tying the game 1-1.
The other thing that hardly ever happens?
In the contest’s 79th minute, North’s Meredith McAlester scored from 50 yards, putting the T-Wolves on top for good.
“I was just hitting it back post and hoping for the best,” McAlester said. “I’m just trying to put it in a dangerous spot where the keeper either has to come out and make a save or just something risky.”
Southmoore keeper Olivia Riggs did not leave the goal mouth and when the ball fell to earth, seemed to anticipate a play that might be made on it. Instead, no play was made on the ball and it bounced past Riggs and into the net.
“Great ball by Meredith,” North coach Trevor Laffoon said. “Our girls are in the right spot, I would have liked to have seen someone get on the end of it, but … it went in the net.”
Because it did, North improved to 13-0 and kept its season going, while Southmoore’s ended, its record falling to 11-4.
McAlester liked her goal, but may have liked the way her team hung tough shorthanded for more than half the game more.
“Our team just rallies together and I think this shows how strong a team we are, to be able to play with 10 people,” she said.
The first half may have been close even, but the second wasn’t, North outshooting Southmoore 7 to 2, earning five corner kicks to the SaberCats’ none.
Indeed, after several opportunities, the contest appeared decided when Jada Ryan, after receiving the ball from Narissa Fults, gave it back to Fults inside of 5 yards from the goal, a sharp-angled spot from which Fults blasted the ball through Riggs, putting the T-Wolves up 2-1.
It wasn’t the game winner because Southmoore’s Aynslee Duffy connected from 25 yards with 8:55 remaining, even with the SaberCats’ first shot of the second half.
The T-Wolves opener was a fine goal, too, Londyn Furnish connecting from 30 yards in the 22nd minute, deflecting her strike off the crossbar, into the goal.
Perhaps first rounds aren’t supposed to be so difficult, but the T-Wolves were up to the task.
“I told them at halftime, we’ve been in this spot before,” Laffoon said. “We have 40 minutes left and I thought we were by far the better team.”
One goal better, at least.
North’s back home Friday, trying to reach Class 6A’s final four.