TULSA — It started with the corner kicks, and much like Tuesday night’s thunderstorms, things escalated quickly from there.
Claremore and Cascia Hall weren’t even 20 minutes into their first-round playoff game before a lightning evacuation and postponement were issued, but that is all the time the Lady Commandos needed.
Jordan Rahilly and Kate Dreyer gave Cascia Hall an early 2-0 lead behind a pair of corner-kick headers in the opening 17 minutes, and the ensuing 21-hour delay did nothing to hinder the Lady Commandos’ momentum.
Cascia Hall, led by Addi Wagner, went on to raid the Lady Zebras with a flurry of goals in the second half on Wednesday, advancing to the Class 5A quarterfinals with a surprising 8-1 win at Ray Siegfried II Stadium.
Claremore, which had given up only 10 goals coming into the match, finished the season with an 8-6 record. The loss ended the Lady Zebras’ four-game winning streak in which they outscored opponents by a 16-1 margin.
Cascia Hall (9-1) plays the winner of Booker T. Washington and Coweta on Friday.
Claremore coach Ryan Jahn said he believed his team was still in the game when it returned to the stadium on Wednesday for the completion of the final 61 minutes, but the girls’ confidence took a hit when Wagner scored the first of her four goals at the 33:31 mark in the second half.
“We kind of thought Cascia would overlook us and not be ready,” Jahn said. “We wanted to come out on fire and get the first one (of Wednesday’s portion).”
Freshman Reagan Smith found the back of the net off a goalkeeper deflection about six minutes later to bring the Lady Zebras back within two goals, but that momentum swing was shortlived.
Cascia Hall’s Rosie Ferrell chipped a shot over goalkeeper Hailey Garcia’s head less than two minutes later to make it 4-1, and things progressively unraveled thereafter.
The Lady Commandos scored four more goals in the final 12 and a half minutes, three of which belonged to Wagner. The senior netted goals at the 12:27, 3:22 and 1:32 marks during that timeframe.
Caroline O’Connor scored Cascia Hall’s other goal.
“That No. 7 up top (Wagner), she’s definitely got some speed on her,” Jahn said. “She kept getting behind our defenders, and once that happens, it’s kind of downhill from there. Her speed and her touches are outstanding, and she’s just a great player.”
Despite the unfortunate circumstances of this loss, Jahn and the Lady Zebras have reason to be optimistic about the future.
Claremore returns all 11 starters and six substitutes while losing only three seniors in Jenna Brown, Maria Bernal and Abby Smith. They graduate with a 52-14 record and two state-title game appearances, winning the Class 5A championship in 2016.
Brown, who missed most of this season with injuries, is signed to play at Kansas State next season.
Reagan Smith, Hailey Braswell, Lilly Sweet, Sidney Liebherr, Zette Erwin, Kinley Williams and Hailey Burden are among the notable returnees for next year’s squad.
“Our future is bright,” Jahn said. “It’s sad to see the season end, but we’ll be back.”