For the sixth straight season, the Verdigris Lady Cardinals are in the Class 3A state soccer championship game.
The defending crown holders made sure of another title appearance with a 1-0 semifinal victory over Harrah Tuesday night at Cardinal Stadium. It was the 13th consecutive win for second-ranked Verdigris and scissored the Panthers’ streak at 14.
Senior forward Caitlyn Hanslovan scored the only goal in the 44th minute following a pass forward from Summer Witt. Hanslovan simply dribbled around goalkeeper Morgan Smith and fired into an open net from about eight yards out.
“I went through the defenders and they weren’t marking me,’’ said Hanslovan.
“I got a chance and put the ball into the back of the net.,
“We have a lot of underclassmen, but we’re more of a team now. It’s taken us all season to get established and we’ve become closer. We’re playing together.’’
Since losing the first three games of the season, the Cardinals have been unbeatable and a stout defensive performance proved crucial against Harrah.
After an up-and-down first half, the Cards took complete control in the second half.
“I feel good about it because we’re a well rounded team,’’ said Verdigris coach Stacy Risenhoover. “We play hard and never give up. In the first half we could have put a couple more shots away, but we settled down and started playing.
“They (the Panthers) put quite a few balls in the box and I wasn’t expecting that quite as much. Our defenders did really well. They kept their composure late and kept on playing.’’
The Cardinals experienced a couple of narrow misses in the first half, the first coming in the 12th minute when freshman midfielder Emily Crowell had an opportunity on a point-blank header off a throw in. Crowell could not get ball under control and the chance slipped away.
In the 38th minute, Hansolvan’s header off a free kick soared high over the net.
Harrah’s best moment came in the 36th minute when Jena Graves hit the cross bar’s elbow from 25 yards and the ball bounced high and away.