By Chuck Reherman
When it has come to playing Norman North on the soccer pitch, Yukon has just not had much luck.
This time, though, the Millerettes had a “saving Grace.” Crowell, that is.
The Millerette senior keeper stopped two shots in the shootout, including the tying attempt on the fifth shot that led to a 2-1 YHS win over the Timberwolves in the season and Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference opener at Miller Stadium.
Yukon had taken the initial lead, saw North come back to tie the match, but did not give up a lead in the shootout, scoring on their first penalty kick.
“The last time Norman North came here, Grace was a freshman and we had the same kind of a tight game,” Millerette coach Steve Scott said. “Grace had to play in goal in that game and for her to get that vindicaton, how she play all game and how she performed in the shootout. She barely missed two other saves besides the ones that she did save.
“It’s a true vindication from the last time Norman North was here,” he added. “And, to be able to take us and put us in the situation to win the match. She made big saves all game long and you could feel the team feeding off of her. Tonight was Grace’s night. She had the opportunity, she stepped up and when you have a goal keeper that is performing like that, you can see and feel the team feeding off that. Not, just tonight, but any night, any other game. It could be Grace, it could be another keeper on every team, you see that energy level coming up. You could just feel it coming.”
The shootout was tied 2-2 when Yukon missed their third shot, but Crowell stepped up and blocked a Norman North third attempt. Erin Enmark and Maddi Phillips and scored the first two penalty kicks to give the Millerettes a 1-0, then 2-1 lead.
With the match tied 2-2, Yukon missed their third shot as Emily Kimmel’s attempt went high to the right and off the goal post. But, Crowell did not give North the chance to take the lead, diving to her left to deflect the ball away.
Ashlynn Williams scored to give the Millerettes a 3-2 lead on the fourth kick, but North squeezed the ball past Crowell (who got her hands on the ball, but saw it slip through). Ashlynn Breedlove put the Millerettes back on top on the fifth kick, as she zipped the ball past the North keeper, who didn’t have a chance to move.
On North’s last shot, Crowell positioned herself in the middle of the net and when the ball came toward her, she dropped down to block the ball and that sent the Millerettes spilling on the field in celebration.
“We wanted to win the pk’s and the five shooters wre brilliant. Therey are 100 percent strong shooters, probably our best shooters,” Scott said. “We were confident that we were going to score. It was going to be of they (Norman North) were going to miss or if Grace was going to make a save. With the way the game played, as coaches we were happy with the way that the girls played that when you get to a PK situation, both teams deserved to be there, it is a 50-50 shot and you saw the joy at the end.
“The way the Norman North shooter lined up for that last shot, she had to hit the ball pretty straight. As soon as she lined up, Grace saw that and she was all over it.”
Norman North had taken the initial lead when the Millerettes made the bad pass across their goal box, the Lady Timberwolves intercepted and scored to take the 1-0 lead.
Cowell made three key saves in the first half, making diving stops at the 31st and 34th minute.
The Millerettes tied the match in the 58th minute mark on a goal from Heimbach. She had taken a pass from Ashley Baker and put the ball into the lower right corner of the net.
Crowell came up with four more saves in the final 20 minutes, the last at the 73rd minute that kept the match tied at 1-1.
“We told the girls that we were proud of them, they are playing hard and playing tough,” Scott said. “Outside the goal that we gave them, when we threw the ball in across our own goal box, which we never do, they capitalized on it and put the ball in the net. We knew we gave them that goal, but by all means they are a good team and they made us pay for it. We made the one mistake and we go back and fix it.
“At the end of the game, when I made that last sub, I put Ashlynn up top and Myla (Heimbach) on the outside and Ashlynn Breedlove on the other side with Maddi (Phillips) and Peyton (Lykes) and I told them let’s go finish this, we are going to win this game.
“You could see their eyes light up,” he added. “You could see they were ready to go and I told them we are going to win. I told them at halftime that it is just a simple three things that we need to do, because everything else is working. They bought in, went after it, and the longer the game went and Grace kept making saves, you could just feel it. I know this is the first year we have beaten Norman North since the (COAC) was formed.
“This was the first step in where we want to go and where we want to be. And, we had a lot of confidence coming in, but we know we have to take it one step at a time and this had to be our first step.”
Yukon has a pair of tough COAC games this week. YHS travels to Moore on Tuesday, then makes the trek to Norman to face the Lady Tigers on Friday. Both matches kickoff at 6 p.m.
By Chuck Reherman