Norman North Soccer Seniors

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Norman North starting seniors, from left, Meredith McAlester, Kenady Humphers, and Lindsey Miller. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Not only may it be very difficult to beat the Norman North girls. So, too, is it difficult to describe them in any kind of shorthand.

They could very well claim the best forward tandem in the state, or several states, in Jada Ryan and Narissa Fults.

Yet, that tandem does not overshadow the rest of them.

In back, North’s defenders and keeper, Mallory Osborn, were kept reasonably busy three days ago and came up big on a night they had to at Bixby to keep their season going.

Though the forwards may dominate, North’s midfield line is a big part of its offense, too.

Meredith McAlester scored the game-winner the first night of the playoffs. Becca Tweedy tallied a goal in the quarterfinal round and Presslee Amick put North up early at Bixby.

Today, 15-0, the program the winner of 23 straight, Norman North meets Edmond North for the Class 6A state championship.

Kicking off at 4 p.m. inside historic Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City, it will be the Huskies’ turn to try doing what no team has done since the last night of the 2019 regular season:

Beat the Timberwolves.

Edmond North must find a way to neutralize Ryan and Fults, to not let the T-Wolves’ midfielders beat them either, to break through North’s back line and, ultimately, beat Osborn.

How might the Huskies begin to do those things?

Great question.

•   •   •

A consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, North is not exactly the defending state champion, but it’s still the last Class 6A team to have won a state championship, two years ago, also at Taft.

It’s particularly hard to see the T-Wolves as “defending” because the team taking the pitch today looks nothing like the the team that took it two years ago against Mustang.

McAlester, one of a group of five seniors that also includes Kenady Humphers, Prestley Gabriel, Lindsey Miller and Rylee Hunter, is the only player on the roster to have received regular minutes during 2019’s playoff run.

Also because the pandemic stole all but the first four games of last season, North didn’t return to practice this year motivated to go further than a year ago, nor fresh off a title to go get yet again.

Because they graduated nine seniors from 2019, nor did the T-Wolves enter this year with roles in stone, leadership well established or a veteran nucleus.

What the team has become, it’s become in real time, on the run, 80 minutes at a time.

“Two years ago, we were just a lot more physical team,” said Humphers. “We’re obviously very physical today, but [in 2019] we just pushed our way around a lot.

“This year, I think we find a way to make passes and open spaces for players to get through … and not just boot the ball up the field and hope our forwards are going to get it.”

Given their forwards, they probably could do that, but they believe they’re more skilled than that and coach Trevor Laffoon agrees.

“I would say that [2019] group was probably a little more athletic, maybe not as technical … this group is a little more skilled,” he said.

McAlester had a thought.

“I think something that’s extremely comparable between the two teams is our work rate,” she said. “I think the last team I played on for the state championship, we played our last 15-20 minutes with 10 players.”

It was actually the last 22:59.

Against Southmoore, in the round of 16, North played the last 43 minutes and change with only 10.

Like the 2019 squad, this one has come through some adversity.

•   •   •

McAlester had another thought.

“We kind of just woke up one day. We kept winning games. We’d just began district,” she said.

It might have been after the Crosstown Clash, North’s second district game, a 3-0 victory that, said Laffoon, had the players understanding “OK, well, we’re pretty good.”

“Trevor always just said, ‘Let’s just take it one game at a time, one game at a time,’ and we never looked forward,” McAlester said. “And now we just find ourselves in this position today and I could not be more proud of this team or be more excited for Friday.”

Today is Friday.

Miller was asked to place herself in the future, maybe 10 years, what does she think then she’d remember about this team now.

“How we all played for each other,” she said. “We’re not out here for ourselves. We’re out here playing for each other because we all want to win as a team.

“All of us are super selfless. We just want to play as hard as we can for each other.”

Balanced and skilled, hard to pin down, the North girls can play that way one more time beginning at 4 p.m. today.

All they’ve done is win.

They need one more.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

cfhorning@normantranscript.com

Trending Video