One hundred scoreless minutes into the last match of Texas’ regular season on Friday night, the crowd of over 2,000 sat holding its breath, waiting for the Longhorns to work their overtime magic.
The Longhorns were previously undefeated in extra minutes this season and unbeaten between the bleachers at Mike A. Myers Stadium. Senior night and a home closer provided the perfect backdrop to end conference play and clinch the No. 2 seed heading into the Big 12 tournament.
Sophomore goalie Nicole Curry had already earned five saves by the hundredth minute. Texas’ defense had weathered a number of close calls from the lightning-fast counterattacks of the conference’s best offense. But as the seconds ticked down in overtime, Oklahoma State defender Laurene Tresfield launched a header from the left side off of a Cowgirl corner, and Texas’ season ended on an errant roll and Longhorn loss.
A visibly upset Texas team slid to the fourth seed in the conference tournament with Friday’s loss, and could only watch as the cheering Oklahoma State squad headed to the locker room to celebrate.
“I think that we lost focus for a second, and credit to them for scoring that goal,” freshman midfielder and forward Haley Berg said. “It was obviously a hard angle, but I think that if we had just stayed focused on taking our chances, then I think that it would have been different.”
Texas struggled to generate clean looks on offense throughout the contest. A number of trips up the field ended in deep shots from outside the box as the Cowgirls stayed compact on the defensive end and looked to counterattack Longhorn overextensions.
“They just sit five or six or seven back,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “If you don’t have patience, then you have to end up taking these long-range shots, which is exactly what they’re hoping that you’ll do. Definitely a game that we’ll grow from.”
The Longhorns also failed to capitalize on the few scoring opportunities it had. Texas redshirt freshman forward Cydney Billups clanked a soft shot off the right bar in the first half, and redshirt sophomore forward Mikayla Flores beat her defender to the spot only to have a header bounce clean off the frame coming out of the break. Out of 13 Texas shots in the game, only four were on target.
With the loss, the Longhorns earned a rematch with Baylor on Wednesday in the first round of the Big 12 Championship tournament. In spite of a roster that boasts little postseason action, Kelly is confident her team will come out with the same composure they’ve demonstrated all season.
“To finish with only two losses on the season, I think that’s given them a ton of experience,” Kelly said. “To come out on top on the other end of five of our overtimes, I think that we’re pretty battle-tested.”