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Originally posted May 14, 2012
Norman North hands Union heartbreaking OT defeat in boys 6A soccer final
BY ERIC BAILEY Tulsa World Sports Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
NEWCASTLE - Union doesn't want its soccer season defined by one match.
But when that single match is a defeat in the Class 6A boys championship game, it can be a bitter pill to swallow.
"They've worked hard all season to get to this point and win it," Redskins coach Cory Butler said after a 2-1 overtime loss to Norman North. "To lose that way, it makes it even harder. But overall, they had a good season."
The Timberwolves (15-0) won their second state championship in three years behind the strong foot of Brandon Little Axe.
The senior scored both of Norman North's goals, including the game-winner with 4:26 remaining in the first overtime.
"We were looking for services all game, we just couldn't get very many," Little Axe said. "I saw (Matt Gann) on the outside and our eyes met. I got in front of the defense and was able to get a touch. I was one-on-one with the keeper and I have to finish those."
Little Axe beat Union keeper Adam Holt to give the Timberwolves the victory.
"It's been an amazing ride," said Norman North coach Geo Claros, the first to put on a championship T-shirt. "This was supposed to be a down year because we lost a bunch from last year's team. It's a great group of boys ... I told the boys before the game that I wanted to have this one more than any other year because of the group it was."
Claros said his team started a little tense and the scoreboard showed that early.
Cristian Mata gave the Redskins a 1-0 halftime lead by scoring in the 24th minute.
Mata, who will play at Tulsa, worked his way through three Norman North defenders in the box before rocketing a shot past Timberwolves keeper Jackson Biles.
"This wasn't the prettiest soccer," Claros said. "It was a game of 50-50 balls and who could get a foot on it in certain situations."
Little Axe tied the match at 1 via penalty kick with 19:31 left in regulation.
Little Axe was fouled in the penalty box by Holt, who took down the Timberwolves' senior forward while diving for a save.
Butler said Union's game plan "went pretty well."
"I thought we gave them a lot of trouble offensively and defensively," said Butler, who was trying to guide the Redskins to their first title since 2007. "They definitely had to earn the win.
"Both teams had some opportunities and it could have went either way. Unfortunately, they got theirs in and we missed a few."
Union ends its season at 13-2-1.
"This is the best senior class that I've had," Butler said, pointing toward his 10 players wearing Union jerseys for the final time.
"They led the team and were focused in every practice and game. This senior class is what all senior classes should be like."