NOBLE — This soccer championship was so exciting for Deer Creek that its students couldn't wait until the trophy presentation was finished to rush the field. Considering who scored for the Antlers, they could have many more opportunities to celebrate in the coming years.
Freshman Lauren Haivala scored both goals, including the game-winner at the 64:42 mark, to lift Deer Creek past Carl Albert 2-1 in the Class 5A girls title game at Noble Stadium on Friday night.
Deer Creek (14-3) beat Carl Albert (11-6) in the state final for the second straight season, giving the Edmond school its first consecutive titles in any sport. Deer Creek has won four girls soccer state titles, with the others coming in 1995 and 2009. With five freshmen in their starting lineup, the future looks promising for the Antlers.
“We just worked hard as a team and played together, and that's why we won,” Haivala said.
Much like the regular-season matchup between Carl Albert and Deer Creek — won 1-0 in two overtimes by the Antlers — Friday's game was evenly matched, with Deer Creek having the slightly better run of play, outshooting the Titans 16-8.
Deer Creek controlled the action for much of the first half and took a 1-0 lead at the 36:44 mark. The Antlers took a corner kick from the left side and Carl Albert goalkeeper Janessa Egler wasn't able to wrap up the ball. The loose ball caromed around in the penalty box and found its way to Haivala, who put it in the back of the net.
“Right place at the right time,” Haivala said.
The Antlers' lead was short-lived. Carl Albert attacked off the ensuing kickoff and Jessica Titsworth's pass from the upper right corner of the penalty box went to fellow freshman Emily Rhodes, who beat Deer Creek goalkeeper Hayley Weaver to tie the game at the 37:13 mark.
Moments later, the Titans nearly went ahead, as Courtney Essary's booming shot from 30 yards banged off the crossbar.
In the 57th minute, Haivala's cross from the right side set up Mikayla Lowery for a shot from eight yards, but Egler made the point-blank save. The Antlers missed another chance when senior Sophia Brazil sent a shot from 25 yards over the crossbar in the 61st minute.
But Deer Creek finally broke through in the 65th minute. A foul on the Titans gave Deer Creek freshman Taylor Reed a free kick on the far right side of the field, about 32 yards out of the goal. Three Antlers were lined up in the penalty box to try to head Reed's cross into the goal and Haivala was the one who did so.
“After that play, I jokingly said, ‘Maybe I should coach soccer,' because that was exactly what we had drawn up,” Deer Creek co-coach Matt Fansher said. “It worked well for us.
“To get two goals on set-piece goals on free kicks — we've worked all year on set pieces, so we were happy to get one, let alone two.”
Egler finished with seven saves for Carl Albert, while Weaver had four for the Antlers.
Carl Albert played six freshmen on Friday, meaning it's quite possible there will be big games between the Titans and Antlers for the foreseeable future.
“The years to come are going to be great battles between these two schools,” Fansher said.