While waiting to play in its championship game, Union received a lesson. Or perhaps, a reminder, on why taking command from the get-go is crucial.
Before meeting Owasso in the Class 6A Girls state championship on May 14 at Broken Arrow Memorial Stadium, the Lady Redskins observed Claremore’s 1-0 overtime victory over Bishop Kelley in the 5A title game. Coach Brian Elliott and his staff challenged them.
“The longer Claremore was in it, the more energized they got,” Elliott says.
Kelley was expected to win the 5A game.
“So we challenged (Union) to go out early and get after (Owasso) and we did. We were able to put a couple (goals) away.”
Bri Amos scored the first one with 34:06 left in the first half. Parker Goins added another one less than 10 minutes later.
Being up 2-0, which was the halftime score, was not enough.
During the halftime talk, assistant coach Paul Snow challenged the girls to score within 12 minutes. Union answered that challenge as Goins got her second goal of the game at 11:53 into the second half.
“We needed to get another one just to control the game,” Elliott says. “It set the tone that we went after them early and got goals. We’ve gone after people early and not got goals.”
Goalkeeper Paige Hobart was a huge defensive factor. She made five saves – two which were big. One came where she dived to stop a penalty shot from the Lady Rams’ Rachel Skalnik with 19:11 left in the first half, followed by the denial of a point-blank rebound chance from the standout Owasso athlete.
“We didn’t want to go to 2-1, we give up a (Penalty Kick) that Paige (Hobart, Union goalkeeper) saved, that could have made it 2-1. At 11:53 (into the second half), we score. So that put us up 3-0,” Elliott says.
“First, we got a goal quick and it started the momentum,” Goins says. “Once I finished that next one, it got us pumped up. Then luckily, we got a foul on the ball and I was able to put it away. It gave us a lot of momentum.”
Goins, the Gatorade State Girls Soccer Player of the Year for Oklahoma, had to be away at different times during the season as she had to travel for camps with the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team. Being away was tough for Goins.
“I went away for three camps. But coming back, my team just kept winning. So it was easy to come back,” Goins says.
Goins joined the USWNT team again for a camp that took place in early July in England.
Taylor Malham added an insurance goal 23 second later, with Goins assisting, to make it 4-0.
“We knew we had won at that point,” Malham says.
Owasso would get their lone goal on a penalty kick from Bri McGowan late in the game.
“Winning 4-1 in the state finals will be the most memorable moment of the season,” Goins says. “We were hoping for 4-0, but 4-1 is just as good.”
“It’s just awesome to know that we won the state championship,” Malham says.
The Lady Redskins will have everyone back next year.
“No seniors played tonight until the end,” Elliott says. “So virtually, our whole team will be back except for our four seniors who graduated. With Parker leaving, Taylor carried the burden. While Parker was gone, we had to teach Taylor to spray the ball around and trust and do her job. Then when Parker came back, it just really flowed. And Payton Lieb really takes a lot of pressure off our team because she creates opportunities for Parker and Taylor, just like they do for everybody else. Her (Lieb) speed is unbelievable and she has gotten so technical, she is a special player.
Lieb was in on two assists.
“We’re at 36 straight wins, we’re No. 1 in TopDrawer.com and second in USA Today, and I haven’t been able to talk about any of that,” Elliott says. “Now we get to enjoy it.”