Claremore Daily Progress

May 2, 2013

‘Leader of the Pack’

Claremore’s lone senior — Caldwell — carries Lady Zebras in ‘Elite Eight’

Tim Ritter
Sports Editor

CLAREMORE — Cheerleading and attending college at the University of Oklahoma can wait for now.

Claremore senior forward Cailin Caldwell has one thing on her mind these days ... leading the No. 3-ranked Lady Zebras to the Class 5A Girls Soccer State Finals.

Caldwell and her teammates continue their quest toward a first-ever 5A state championship in the ‘Elite Eight’ at 6 p.m. today against No. 5 Booker T. Washington at S.E. Williams Stadium in Tulsa.

The Lady Zebras advanced to the state quarterfinals with a tenacious all-around effort in a 3-0 win over Coweta.

With the game scoreless at halftime, Claremore dominated after the break and tamed the Lady Tigers.

Claremore junior midfielder Katelin Teter tallied two goals and junior midfielder Emily Parkinson added one more to spark the Lady Zebras into tonight’s showdown with the Lady Hornets.

Meanwhile, Booker T. Washington cruised past Skiatook, 5-0 as Natalie Mulkey and Morgan Smith scored two goals apiece and Skiatook’s defense knocked the other goal in on a corner kick that caromed off the Lady Bulldogs’ goalkeeper.

Throughout the course of the season, the leadership of Claremore’s lone senior — Caldwell — has paid off tremendously, especially on the offensive end.

Caldwell’s ability to out-run opposing defenses with her blazing speed, as well as fancy foot-work, gives Claremore an edge up front.

Over the past four years, Caldwell’s experience from ‘club soccer’ has carried over to her high school career and taken the Lady Zebra program to a higher level.

The Lady Zebra expectations — year in and year out — are  to be one of the final four teams standing in Class 5A.

A win over Booker T. Washington would help the Lady Zebras achieve that feat. Of course, reaching the Final Four isn’t the ultimate goal for Caldwell and her teammates.

They want to play for the state championship.

Since a 1-0 loss in overtime to No. 1 Tulsa Edison, the Lady Zebras haven’t forgotten that sour feeling.

In hindsight, it’s been their motivation in the postseason.

The loss to Edison stung and kept the Lady Zebras from clinching the Metro Lakes Conference championship.

Caldwell’s intensity, though, has the Lady Zebras ‘hungry’ for another shot at those Lady Eagles.

Ask the Lady Zebras who they want to play right now, and it’s pretty obvious ... it’s Tulsa Edison.

But, first things first, these talented, hard-working Lady Zebras have to tackle the task at hand and defeat Booker T. Washington — a team that ended Claremore’s postseason berth in 2012.

Veteran head coach Robin Sutherland has her team focused on playing one game at a time, even though it’s hard not to look toward the future.

Early in the season, the Lady Zebras claimed the Claremore Soccer Shootout championship with a 2-1 win over Tulsa Edison.

From that point on, the Lady Zebras were rockin’ and rollin’ and even enjoying being No. 1 in the state. Then, a setback to Class 7A Rogers (Ark.) – who snapped Claremore’s 5-game winning streak — proved to a blessing in disguise.

The 2-1 shootout loss to Rogers (Ark.) raised their level of competition and tested the Lady Zebras’ character.

From all indications, Sutherland’s highly-experienced team handles adversity very well.

Even though they may get down in a game, they never fold and fight through with the ‘heart of champions.’

To have Caldwell leading this pack of gallopin’ Lady Zebras, it’s a true testament to the qualities she displays as a captain as well as the ability to carry this team on her shoulders.

Though the sidelines of Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium can wait a couple of months, there’s three more games left in Caldwell’s soccer career.

One down ... three to go to reach that ‘golden opportunity’ and make Claremore Lady Zebra soccer history.

It’s now or never for Caldwell to carry the weight of this team on her back.

And, from the looks of how the season has gone, Caldwell’s done a ‘perfect job’ and her teammates have supported her in every aspect of the game.

Together Everyone Achieves More.

Caldwell and the Lady Zebras have strong visions of winning the last game.

But, tonight, it’s all about conquering Booker T. on their turf.