By Chuck Reherman
Yukon’s Millerette soccer team will continue their “revenge tour” Friday night in the class 6A playoffs.
The Millerettes will travel to Norman to take on the No. 1 ranked Norman North Lady Timberwolves in the quarterfinal round at North High School. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Yukon 11-3, knocked off Westmoore 2-1 in the opening round on Tuesday, avenging an earlier loss to the Lady Jaguars at Westmoore High School. The Millerettes will face the unbeaten Lady T-Wolves, 13-0, who beat Southmoore 3-2 on a 50-yard shot in the 79th minute.
Norman North had beaten the Millerettes 4-0 at Yukon on April 22, which dropped YHS to third place in the district 6A-1 race. North led 2-0 at half of that first meeting and scored twice more in the second to seal the win.
YHS head coach Danielle Tantillo said her team is playing much better since that first meeting and has their sights set on the Lady T-Wolves, after getting over the hump of winning a first round playoff game. It was the first time since 2013 that the Millerettes had gotten out of the first round.
“I think we are ready for North,” Tantillo said. “This was our first playoff win since 2013 and against Westmoore we played the best first half and majority of second half that we have played all season.
“The thing we need to do going in is we need to stay calm and stay composed,” she said. “I feel like sometimes emotions can take over. At times it got intense, but I feel the girls took a step back and did the job they needed to do.”
The Millerettes have not had much luck playing at Westmoore in the past and earlier in the year lost 2-0, giving up a pair of early first half goals. The Westmoore field is a little narrower than the Millerettes are used to and have had troubles adjusting to that in the past.
They didn’t have that trouble Tuesday night.
Yukon came out attacking and scored in the first 10 minutes that put Westmoore back on its heels. But, it was the Millerettes’ second goal, another penalty kick from Zoe Wilson in the 76th minute that secured the win.
“This was 1000 percent different from the last time we played,” Tantillo said. “The first time we played them, we didn’t come out 100 percent and we didn’t finish the chances we had. We just weren’t awake. We definitely improved on what we needed to another level.
“Getting that goal early on was awesome,” she said. “There were a lot of fouls in the game, but they were good fouls and the refs did a good job. Once we got the goal, we gained some momentum and controlled the game, we had possession like 75 percent of the game. We played really good.”
With the game tie at 1-1 and the Millerettes missing on three scoring chances in the second half, the game winner came when Caid Jefferson was taken down inside the goal box, giving the Millerettes a penalty kick at the 75:07 mark.
Wilson lined up her shot and beat Westmoore keeper Jayden Dobbs with a shot to the right side of the net.
Westmoore nearly tied the match, sending a long pass deep into the Millerette end of the field and a second pass allowed Westmoore’s Chloi Thurman a chance to score as keeper Nevea VanHoutan came out of the box. But, the Millerette defense got a foot on the ball and after a scramble cleared the ball and sending it down to the YHS end of the field.
VanHoutan, although giving up a goal in the first half (she was blocked from the site of the ball) came up with several saves in both halves that kept Westmoore from tying the game.
“We had five freshmen out there tonight and they stepped up for us,” Tantillo said. Our keeper, Neveah, had a very good night for us, she really stepped up in the second half.”
It was a “different” Millerette team that took the field against Westmoore than the first meeting. In that first meeting, the Lady Jaguars had scored five minutes into the contest, but the Millerettes were able this time to mark their opponents and not give them chances.
The Millerettes took the initial lead on a penalty kick from Wilson 9:39 into the match.
Kyleigh Fort was taken down from behind on an attack toward the net and Westmoore was called for the foul, awarding the penalty kick to the Millerettes. Wilson drilled the shot to the left side of the net just out of the reach of the diving Dobbs.
Westmoore did tie the match in the 27th minute when Jadynn Daggs sent a shot around her defender and into the corner of the net.
Yukon did have a chance to break the tie in the 39th minute on a corner. The ball, though, hit the corner of the goal and bounced out of the reach of Avery Stanley, who was positioned in front of the goal.
“The whole week leading up to this game, we made an emphasis that there is more to just making the playoffs and the first round,” Tantillo said. “With them realizing that, it gave them more fire to work hard to get this win. This is my second year here, but since we didn’t get to play a full season last year, the girls were still adjusting to some of my expectations and my coaching style and me personally. That was a huge adjustment for them but now they are understanding and jumping on my band wagon, they are starting to get it.
“We changed up our formation to help that and that made a big difference in how we played tonight on the narrower field,” she added.
The playoff win help brings some normalcy back to a season that early on was still not a sure deal and after the season was canceled after three matches last season.
“After not getting to play last year, being out here playing is a step toward normalcy,” Tantillo said. “There is not a mask mandate and the girls are more comfortable knowing that we can finish out the season. The girls are in a better head space right now and are a little more relaxed and at ease with everything. These kids need that. It has been a rough year for the kids and it is impressive from what we are seeing from this generation.”