GIRLS SOCCER: Barnett leads Inola to first playoff win in program history

May 2—INOLA — Makiah Barnett is nothing if not resilient.

The sophomore midfielder left the game with calf cramps with 18 minutes remaining, appearing in considerable pain. However, she recovered quickly and was back on the field within a few minutes to help Inola maintain its lead.

Or grow it.

Only five minutes after returning to the pitch, Barnett collected a long and high through ball from Saylor Lofton, delivering a right-footed strike on the bounce from 13 yards out as the Porter Consolidated goalkeeper closed in to make the save.

The shot wasn't powerful, but it was just enough to get past the goalkeeper. With the their last line of defense beat, the Lady Pirates hopelessly raced toward the ball as it slowly bounced into the goal and settled in the left corner of the net.

The opportunistic goal with 13:12 remaining was Barnett's second of the game, securing the Lady Longhorns' first playoff win in school history with a 2-1 victory over Porter Consolidated in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament Tuesday night.

"I was like, 'I have to get a foot on it', so I just put a foot on it," said Barnett, whose first goal came nine minutes into the game on a free kick from 25 yards out after Porter Consolidated committed a handball violation. "I was just hoping it went in."

Although the goal gave Inola (10-5) a 2-0 lead, it also strengthened the Lady Pirates' resolve.

Porter Consolidated (10-4) struck quickly after Barnett's second goal, finding the back of the net off a well-placed corner kick at the 11:42 mark. It then missed an open shot on goal at the 2:19 mark before forcing a crucial save from the Lady Longhorns' goalkeeper with just over a minute remaining.

However, a few key clearings in the final minute allowed Inola to maintain its advantage and clinch the win.

"I was sweating," Lady Longhorns coach Lacey Coltrane said. "I might have lost a year or two of my life, but I'm really proud of them. We held it out.

"This is my 10th year here, and it's my ninth year coaching the high school team, so it's pretty amazing," she added, referring to the significance of the historic win. We've really built our program a lot, so I'm really proud of their accomplishment."

Inola's first playoff win marks a significant turnaround for the program after years of challenges and setbacks.

The Lady Longhorns' 10 wins are the most in recent memory, surpassing their nine-win seasons in 2018 and 2022. With only four winning seasons in the past decade, Inola has embraced the opportunity to rewrite its narrative and redefine its place in the competitive landscape of Oklahoma high school girls soccer.

"Our team, we've come a long ways," Barnett said. "Just last year, we were a game short of making playoffs. I feel like our team this year has come together and played well as a team, and we've really found what positions are where, and we just work really well together."

During that 10-year stretch, the Lady Longhorns were 0-4 in playoff appearances. However, Coltrane and her players have refused to be deterred, channeling their collective determination into an expectation-shattering 2024 season.

The Lady Longhorns have also experienced an offensive improvement unlike any they've seen in quite some time, having scored 48 goals and counting through 15 games. No Inola team had scored more than 40 goals (2022) over the past decade.

"We're just building our girls and really securing a lot of our positions that matter, especially this year," Coltrane said. "We've scored a lot more goals than we have ever. We've had four girls contribute scoring wise, which usually it's one, so that makes a big difference offensively for us."

The Lady Longhorns now shift their attention to the Class 3A state quarterfinals, where they'll play Crossings Christian at 7 p.m. Friday. The Lady Knights are 10-2 this season, defeating Kingfisher 6-4 in the first round.