In only its second year, Piedmont's girls' soccer team has reached the Class 4A state semifinals, despite losing one of its best players to a season-ending knee injury.
The Wildcats were 11-4 in their inaugural season of soccer, losing to Clinton in the first round of the playoffs.
Piedmont rides at 11-game winning streak into Tuesday night's playoff game at Fort Gibson.
The Wildcats, 13-2, have outscored their opponents 56-2 over those 11 games, including nine shutouts. Piedmont's only losses this season were to Deer Creek and Harrah, two teams still playing.
The club has been able to overcome the loss of Jordan Hendren, who was the team's leading scorer before tearing at ACL in midseason.
Sophomore Bianca Cardenas and freshman Kylie Pyle have stepped up for the Wildcats. Cardenas has scored 19 goals on the season while Pyle has added 17.
Piedmont coach Brad Brucker had expected the offensive production to drop after Hendren's injury.
“I didn't expect our freshman (Pyle) to take off like she did,” he said. “She has really come alive since that time.”
BETHANY ON HISTORIC RUN
In the 13-year history of Bethany soccer, the Bronchos' boys team has won a total of two playoff games.
This year, the Bronchos already have three wins, counting their victory in the play-in game. Bethany, 12-5, will travel to Poteau Tuesday for the Class 4A semifinals.
Bethany coach Sean Williams said a 3-2 shootout loss to perennial power Santa Fe South earlier in the season was a turning point for the Bronchos.
“That game gave us a lot of confidence going into the playoffs,” Williams said.
The Bronchos have been led by Michael Ross and John Page, who scored all of the club's goals in playoff wins over Cache and Weatherford.
“Both have stepped up in the playoffs,” Williams said. “Both have done a great job offensively.”
But the strength of the team is defense and goal keeper Colin Spencer, Williams said.
“We build our program around him and our defense,” he said.
SAINTS LOOKING FOR REDEMPTION
Santa Fe South boys' coach Wes Furley doesn't mince words. He thinks the Saints are the best team in Class 4A.
“We should win it (the state championship),” Furley said.
But Furley also believed the Saints were the best team last year when Santa Fe South lost in the state championship game to Mount St. Mary.
The Saints led 1-0 when St. Mary scored with 17 seconds left to tie the game. St. Mary then won the state title in overtime.
“To have it so close and to have it taken away has been a huge motivation for us this year,” Furley said.
The Saints, whose only state soccer title was in 2009, has seven starters back from last year's state runner-up squad.
Santa Fe South's only three losses this season have been to Class 6A clubs. The Saints lost to Enid and Edmond Santa Fe in the Stillwater Cup and were defeated by U.S. Grant in the regular season.
Junior Everado Gonzalez and senior Edgar Moreno are the Saints two best players.
Santa Fe South plays at Fort Gibson in the Class 4A semifinals Tuesday night.
ANOTHER DEER CREEK, CARL ALBERT SHOWDOWN?
Deer Creek and Carl Albert are each one win away from meeting again in the Class 5A girls' state championship game.
Defending state champion Deer Creek hosts Tulsa Edison on Tuesday night in a Class 5A semifinal. Carl Albert is home against Tulsa Washington in the other.
Some coaches think Deer Creek is the best team in any class this season.
“They could be challenging for a 6A title this year,” Piedmont coach Brad Brucker said.
Deer Creek, 12-3, has a talented freshmen class and starts five of them.
“We just had to figure out where to place them,” Deer Creek coach Misty Thompson said. “Once we did, we have been pretty successful.”
The Antlers only losses this season have been to Edmond Memorial and to two teams in an elite Kansas City, Mo., Tournament.
Carl Albert, 10-5, starts six freshmen. Four of the five Titans' losses were to Class 6A playoff teams: Edmond North, Putnam City North and twice to Mustang. The Titans other loss was to Deer Creek.
Carl Albert coach Jeremy Hymel credits most of the Titans' success to defense and senior goal keeper Janessa Egler.
“She has made a lot of saves,” he said. “She has done a great job leading our team.”
NORMAN NORTH SURVIVES SHOOTOUT
Norman North, 12-3, plays at Owasso in a Class 6A semifinal Tuesday after the Timberwolves survived a thrilling 2-1 win over Norman in a quarterfinals shootout.
Twelve players on each side kicked in the shootout before it was finally decided 10-9 in favor of Norman North, the defending state champs.
“It's definitely a crazy situation,” Timberwolves coach Geo Claros said of the long shootout. “Honestly, I didn't even know you went through 10 shooters and then you could recycle your shooters. I didn't know the rule.”
Norman's Gordon Drummond just finished his 29th year as head coach of the Tigers.
“I have never gone to 12 shooters before,” Drummond said. “I never experienced anything like that. It was really exciting.”
It also was a painful loss for Norman, which finished its season 13-2.
“We could have flooded the field with tears,” Drummond said.