CASHMERE – Okanogan made things interesting after scoring an equalizing goal late to force overtime against Cashmere Tuesday night, but Cashmere’s skilled midfield proved too tough to contain in extra-time as Cashmere generated chance-after-chance before Clare Norman scored the game-winner in the second OT.
The win advances Cashmere into the crossover on Saturday at Freeman, who finished as the NEA regular-season champ but lost in its title game to Lakeside (9 mile) Tuesday night.
Cashmere got on the board early with sophomore Carley Diaz scoring the game’s first goal six minutes in. But there would be nearly an hour before the next goal as Okanogan clamped down defensively and bided their time for a chance to counter, which eventually came in the 70th minute.
Freshman Afton Wood received the through ball and perfectly floated her shot just over the head of Cashmere keeper Ava Courtney to level the score.
“They just played very stout defense,” Cashmere head coach Dennis Tronson said after the win. “They put up a wall in front of the goal and then got in on that counter and hit the shot from 30-yards out. We had a couple of chances going forward and three good looks in the first OT we just couldn’t find that finishing touch. But then five minutes into the second OT, Clare got on a 1v1 and just ripped a shot from 10-yards out and that was the match.”
It was going to be interesting to see how Cashmere would respond following its 1-nil loss to Cascade in the CTL title game this past Saturday, but the girls came out firing on offense — in what may be their last home game of the season — and generated 17 shots, 11 of which on frame.
“It was an emotional game coming in after the loss to Cascade and we played (Okanogan) tough in our two previous meetings,” Tronson said. “I thought (head coach) Dean Klepec came out with a good game plan and forced us to play a different style. But we came out in the second half and were (practically) sitting on top of the 18, we just couldn’t get a second goal. It was great to see Norman step up and finish it off.”
Cashmere will get a few days to rest and recover before they make the trek east to Freeman to take on the Scotties Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
“The only way we get another home game is if we win on Saturday and then on Tuesday (in the first round of state) to get a home quarterfinal,” Tronson said. “But we’re not looking for the next home game, we’re just looking to move on to the state sheet, get back in the final 16 and see where we go from there. These are going to be really competitive games but it’s all there in front of us.”