GIRLS SOCCER: Oologah storms past Clinton to reach Class 4A semifinals

May 4—OOLOGAH — Ava Penner was the epitome of 'Give, and you shall receive.'

The senior captain was in a gift-giving mood Friday night, dishing out two assists as Oologah built a comfortable lead. Then, just as the famous quote promises, her generosity was rewarded.

Penner received Kalley Hogue's cross from the right side of the penalty box and blasted a shot past the goalkeeper into the net with 14:15 remaining, capping her full-circle moment as the Lady Mustangs secured an emphatic 6-0 victory over perennial power Clinton in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.

As a captain, Penner puts her individual accomplishments aside to enhance her teammates' performance.

"I love giving back to the team," Penner said. "I love setting up my teammates. Obviously, getting a goal for myself feels great, but I love setting up my teammates even more. It really helps to model for the younger people coming up, especially in the playoffs. It's a different level of competition, and you need to give your all, so I'm glad that I was able to put some stats on the board to prove that."

Penner first displayed her giving spirit at the 21:49 mark of the first half when she delivered a well-placed corner kick to her freshman sister Madison Penner, who flawlessly headed the ball into the net to increase Oologah's lead to 2-0.

She was back at it again in the second half after the Lady Mustangs earned a free kick just outside the left edge of the box.

Ava Penner's boot forced the goalkeeper to react quickly to stop it, but the tip went straight to an awaiting Hogue for a simple tap-in at the far post with 36:17 remaining.

"She's really stepped up this year for her junior season," Ava Penner said of Hogue. "She's playing a great game. It's so fun to be able to connect with her."

Ava Penner's contributions were just one highlight in a game of many for Oologah (15-2).

Texas Tech commit Layney Molini wasted no time putting the Lady Mustangs on the board, taking a throw-in from Avlynn Hill and executing a spin move before delivering a powerful strike past the goalkeeper only two minutes into the contest.

"I'm one that I like to get up early so we can settle down," Molini said. "I feel like at the beginning of the game, it's the most (nerve-racking) and hardest part. I like to do a little spin and hit it on those throw-ins, and that's exactly what I did. It went in, so I'm just grateful that we got that one because I feel like it started the momentum."

Molini had another chance to score just before halftime when she darted past the defense with ease and attacked the goal from the left side, but her shot was deflected by a Lady Reds defender. However, the loose ball went to Allie Charlough, who scooted a goal past the goalkeeper 17 seconds before the halftime buzzer to send Oologah into the break with a 3-0 lead.

Kailee Seaba had two quality looks at the goal at the 17:00 and 12:30 marks of the first half while Tatum Reynolds and Brynlee Sweet had one apiece with 24:00 and 7:13 remaining, respectively, but they couldn't convert the opportunities.

Molini continued her aggressive offensive assault on Clinton in the second half, forcing a trio of saves at the 34:30, 21:40 and 19:10 marks before finally netting her second goal with a straight line-drive shot from more than 25 yards out.

"She's the best attacker I've ever coached," Lady Mustangs coach Sam Bowers said. "I don't care what level. I've coached 6A for 24 years. I think she's got 40 or 41 goals now, and she wouldn't have 41 in 6A, but let me tell you something, she'd start on any 6A team. It helps when you have that final hammer. I had some of my coaching friends here, and they're like, 'Oh my god' and 'Holy crap,' and I said, 'I've been telling you she can play.'"

For Bowers, the blowout victory over the Lady Reds came as somewhat of a surprise.

Clinton (13-4) has been one of the most consistent programs in the state over the past decade and came into the quarterfinal matchup against Oologah having outscored opponents 58-7. However, the Lady Mustangs limited its offense to only five shots on goal, dominating possession throughout most of the match.

"I knew we could do some things, but they're very athletic," Bowers said. "They were a physical team, and I was a little worried about it because we're not real big and we have a bunch of young kids. We had to stop them like three times in warmups because you could just tell (we were nervous), but I kept preaching to them, 'You're better than that. You've got to relax.' Then we get that early goal, and I think everybody just relaxed after that.

"I had a bunch of people go, 'Yeah, it should be a game, but you'll have a chance to win.' I think that score might shock them a little bit."

Oologah now advances to the state semifinals, a stage Bowers said he believes the program hasn't seen since 1995. It will be up against Oklahoma Christian School (Edmond), which has reached the semifinals for a fourth-consecutive season.

The Lady Saints are 9-3 this season and are coming off a 3-1 victory over Victory Christian, but they also notably lost to Clinton 1-0 on April 4.

Despite that favorable comparison against a common opponent, the Lady Mustangs aren't going to underestimate OCS come Tuesday at 6 p.m.

"Our phrase is 'No distractions,'" Bowers said. "They're getting all the attention they deserve now. They had a pep rally this morning for them, and I'm like, 'No distractions — no distractions.' We put them on the board one at a time. We have a big ceremony in the locker room where when we beat (our opponent), we cross them out and put the next one. It doesn't matter who you're playing — you'll play somebody good. Luckily, we'll be at home, so we haven't had to travel yet.

"We just gotta keep them grounded."