Carl Albert girls soccer coach Jeremy Hymel really wants to beat Deer Creek.
The Titans have never defeated Deer Creek in Hymel's six years as the Carl Albert coach, including twice in the state championship game.
Carl Albert is back in the Class 5A state championship game Friday night for the fourth time in seven years and again the opponent is Deer Creek.
The Titans are looking for their first state title in girls' soccer while Deer Creek is the defending state champion. The Antlers defeated the Titans, 1-0, in last year's state championship game.
“Last year was the first year my girls believed we could have beaten them,” Hymel said. “We should have won the finals. I thought we were the better team, but soccer doesn't always happen that way.”
Both the Titans and the Antlers are back in the state title game even though both rely heavily on freshmen. Carl Albert starts six freshmen and Deer Creek starts five.
“That's pretty uncommon I would say,” Hymel said. “I don't think it is surprising based on the talent of our freshmen.”
It's a byproduct of club soccer, where girls begin playing competitively at a young age, Hymel said.
“They are just going to keep pouring into Carl Albert,” said Hymel, who expects four more freshmen to battle for starting positions next season.
It's the same at Deer Creek, where girls from club soccer programs dominate the roster. Some of the Carl Albert and Deer Creek players are teammates on the same club team.
“Any of the good teams in the state championships, Jenks and (Tulsa) Kelley (in Class 6A) for example, they both have a bunch of club players from Tulsa teams,” Deer Creek coach Misty Thompson said. “It's really helping out the development of the high school programs.”
The last time Deer Creek started so many freshmen was 2009, a state championship season for the Antlers. Those freshmen were last year's seniors who won another state title for Deer Creek.
Deer Creek and Carl Albert also are district foes. The Antlers won this year's regular-season meeting between the two clubs, 1-0, in double overtime.
Carl Albert always fields tough teams, but this year's Titans' squad is more skilled than past teams, Thompson said.
“Carl Albert is real scrappy,” she said. “That's their ticket.”
The Antlers are not talking about their winning streak against Carl Albert, Thompson said. They want to become the first Deer Creek team in any sport to repeat as state champions, she said.
“We can't worry about those things,” Thompson said. “We just got to come out and play our best.”