MADILL — Seven sets of eyes from the Ardmore Lady Tigers defensive third were trained on one pink headband.
The scouting report on stopping the Madill was pretty simple — stop No. 2 at all cost.
But in the second half, when a deflection sent the ball to Madill senior's feet those 14 eyes grew wide.
Soon the swarm was on with the Lady Tigers blitzing the Lady Wildcats forward just outside midfield.
It wouldn’t matter.
Within seconds, she was on the loose, streaking into the box before sending another clinical strike past the outstretched arms of the diving keeper, giving the Lady Wildcats a 2-0 win over their rivals.
The story is a common one for Madill’s opponents. Every team Madill faces knows what’s coming. The tricky part has been doing anything about it.
For two straight seasons, every ball that’s found the back of the net for the Lady Wildcats has come off the golden boots and blonde hair of one player, Madill senior Alyssa Emery.
Despite being marked, double teamed, tackled and pushed, game after game, whether it be by assists, chip shots, 40-yard bombs, penalty kicks, leaping headers, or dribbling the ball into the net after juking past the goalie, Emery has been the one constant variable on each of Madill’s 49 goals.
So far, Emery has scored 22 goals and racked up a pair of assists in her senior season. Last year she had 21 goals and four assists.
Despite carrying the scoring load for the Lady Wildcats, Emery said the constant reliance on her to produce hasn’t gotten to her.
“I don’t mind,” she said. “Scoring, creating — it’s the best part.”
And today, Emery will look to have some more fun as she enters the final playoff run of her high school career, beginning with a first-round matchup at Weatherford tonight.
Last season Madill made the playoffs, but the Lady Wildcats were eliminated in the first round. This year, Emery hopes to end her high school career on a different note.
“Our goal is to win,” Emery said. “We have to work and work hard for 80 minutes against Weatherford. If we do that, I think we can beat them.”
Following the postseason, Emery will play soccer for Central Christian College of Kansas.
Emery’s rise through soccer is rare in southern Oklahoma. The game she loves, one of the oldest and most popular sports in the world, wasn’t played at the high school level here until 2006, when Madill started its soccer program.
Ardmore High School is the only other school in the area that participates in the sport, and their program began in 2016, finishing its first year of district play this past season.
But before lighting up the scoreboard at Blake Smiley Stadium, Emery first discovered her talent for finding the net in her own backyard.
Soccer was the family sport for the Emery's. And after they moved from Michigan to Oklahoma, Emery learned how to be fearless and take on defenders – no matter their size, strength or talent level – during heated one-on-one soccer games with her older brother at an early age.
“I got him a few times,” Emery said. “It made me better. If I could beat him, I knew I could take on girls my age.”
And though Ardmore and nearby cities didn’t offer select soccer teams, Emery did play in the recreational league G.O.A.L.S, often playing co-ed teams to help sculpt her into the elite player she is today.
She said playing against competition that was often stronger and bigger in rec leagues and at home made her that much better.
“It made me a better player,” she said. “It made confident. I didn't get scared anymore."
Soon, Emery’s talent and nose for finding the back of the net grew out of the local level.
Her family would take long weekend road trips to Dallas, Oklahoma City and Durant for Emery to face elite competition, playing on select teams and clubs. She currently plays on a club team based out of Sherman, Texas.
“I got a chance to really showcase my talent at the club level,” she said.
And after her standout performance her junior year, putting up FIFA video game numbers to lead the Wildcats to the playoffs, Emery began seeing her dream of playing soccer at the next level become a reality. On Feb. 7, she signed her National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Central.
Emery said the transition and competition for playing time will be tough in college. But like she has at every level, from the backyard battles with her brother to a final State Championship hurrah and eventually college, Emery said she’s ready to enter her the next challenge head-on.
“I’ve been playing this game since I was little,” she said. “it’s been hard work year after year to get here. It’s bittersweet [entering the playoffs of her senior season] but I'm excited for the next chapter and the playoffs, I’m excited to see where we go.”