Sports Sunday Correspondent
TULSA — Fans who traveled to the Class 5A All-State soccer matches on Friday night initially might have thought they missed an exit for the Union High School soccer field and ended up instead at Lantow Field in Claremore.
After all, there was an abundance of Claremore High School flavor in the 18th annual event, sponsored by the Oklahoma Soccer Coaches Association.
A glance down the sidelines for the East team during the girls’ match provided a look at Lady Zebra soccer coach Gavin Crocker and assistants Lacey Brown and Steve Mason.
On the pitch, fans saw plenty of Claremore standouts Taylor Crutchfield and Kristin Young.
Ditto for the boys’ match.
Patrolling the sidelines for the East squad was Zebra first-year head coach Garland Betts along with assistant coach Caleb Horton.
Meanwhile, racing up and down the pitch were Claremore products Kevin Charloe and Jesus Leal.
With a Claremore presence at nearly every turn, the East and West split a pair of matches in the second night of competition of this year’s All-State contests.
Highlighted by four second-half goals by Bixby’s Siera Strawser, the 5A East girls rolled to an easy, 7-1 victory.
However, the 5A West boys edged the East, 2-1, in a defensive struggle.
The 5A matches on Friday followed the Class 4A competition, which was played Thursday night.
Young, who registered 20 goals and 25 assists in her high school career, pretty much summed up the feelings of Claremore athletes and coaches who participated in the event.
“Having your coaches here as well as a teammate made it really comfortable to play,” said Young, who will attend the University of Arkansas in the fall although she doesn’t plan to play competitive soccer.
“It was exciting to play with them here.”
Young’s teammate, Crutchfield, added an assist to the East’s winning cause.
In the first half, Crutchfield — a defender who was a part of 32 shutouts as a three-year Lady Zebra starte r— made a Rogers County connection with Catoosa’s Morgan Sunny.
Sunny, who amassed 22 career goals as a four-year letterwinner, took a crossing pass from Crutchfield from the right side and tallied with 10:04 remaining before halftime for a 3-0 East lead.
“This was like playing high school soccer again,” said Crutchfield, who will attend the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark., on an academic scholarship while also playing on the school’s soccer team.
“It was great to have one last game with them (Claremore coaches and Young).”
Besides Sunny, who plans to attend the University of Central Oklahoma and possibly play soccer there, two other Catoosa athletes saw action.
Forward Ally Crain, who scored eight goals and added three assists despite playing in only nine matches because of an injury this spring, notched an unassisted goal from 12 yards at 26:11 of the second half. Crain will attend Northern Oklahoma College.
Additionally, Whitnye Replogle, who recorded 57 saves and posted eight shutouts in her four-year Catoosa career, was in goal for the East during the second half.
Besides being honored to guide the East players, Crocker was recognized at halftime for reaching the 100-victory plateau in his career.
Crocker, who has been with the Lady Zebras the last three years and directed them to the Class 5A title match in 2004, has 106 wins in eight years as a head coach.
“It was awesome to get to coach both Taylor and Kristin. Both had successful four-year high school careers,” he said. “Both were captains on our team. They are special girls.”
West Boys 2, East Boys 1
A West goal in the seventh minute of the second half snapped a 1-1 tie and proved to be the game-winner.
The East’s goal came via the efforts of a couple of Rogers County athletes.
With 5:51 remaining before halftime, Claremore forward Kevin Charloe, a two-year Zebra letterman, was fouled on an attack in the West’s goal box.
That set up a penalty kick opportunity for Catoosa midfielder Robert Yang, who had narrowly missed on two scoring opportunities earlier in the half.
Yang, a three-time Indian captain who logged 20 goals and 16 assists in his career, converted on the penalty kick to deadlock the match at 1-1.
Yang plans to attend Northeastern State University.
His goal, though, would be the only one for the East. Charloe, who will attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., had a chance to even the match with about six minutes to go but could not capitalize from close range.
“I was relaxed and not nervous. I knew what it was going to be like (with Claremore coaches directing the team),” said Charloe, who did not play soccer as a junior after suffering an ankle injury his sophomore season.
Charloe’s teammate at Claremore, defender Jesus Leal, helped anchor a stingy East defense that kept the squad in the match.
“Everybody was supporting each other,” said Leal, a three-year letterman, about playing with a teammate and coaches that he knew. “They were people that I could talk to and could relate to.”
In addition to Leal, who is undecided on a college, Catoosa defender Chris Spradling contributed to the East’s defensive prowess.
Spradling lettered three years and participated in seven shutouts while with the Indians.
Betts capped his first year at the Zebras’ helm by guiding many of the best Class 5A soccer players in the state with help from Horton. Dave Haggart was also listed as an assistant coach for the East but was not present.
“All the boys provided a good atmosphere. It was relaxing and stress-free. It was a good experience,” Betts said
The Claremore coach joked that he may consider checking in with Charloe about his former player’s scoring opportunity in the final minutes that went awry.
“I might have to call him,” Betts quipped. “One of my own players missed that (potential game-tying) goal … imagine that.”
Still, having Charloe and Leal on the East’s roster was somewhat akin to a case of déjà vu for the coach.
“It was kind of like playing an old home field match,” he said.