SAN ANTONIO -- Taylor Mathews’ goal with less than three minutes to go finally broke a scoreless game and saved second-ranked Oklahoma State from a shocker in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Soccer Championship as the Cowgirls defeated eighth-seeded Oklahoma 1-0 on Wednesday at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
Mathews followed a drive from teammate Megan Marchesano, who got loose on the right side and drew Oklahoma goalkeeper Kelsey Devonshire over to defend. Marchesano sent a pass over to Mathews, who got past a Sooners defender into position for the goal with 2:54 to go.
“If I hadn’t scored that, it would have been horrible for Megan because she worked so hard to get that ball and she made it easy for me,” Mathews said. “It would have been hard to miss that.”
The Cowgirls play Texas (11-7-1), the fifth seed and 1-0 winner over Texas Tech in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The Texas-OSU semifinal match is 5:30 p.m, Friday.
The two-time defending champion Cowgirls (18-0-2) entered the tournament as the top seed. The Sooners (7-13-0), who played against OSU in the championship match last year, lost three of their final four games and struggled to make the tournament as the eighth and final seed.
“We created enough opportunities to win,” Sooners coach Nicole Nelson said. “But we got caught on the counter (on the game-winning goal), which is what OSU is incredible at. They have a tremendous senior class that knows what to do, and they do it well.”
The Cowgirls swept both games played against OU in the regular season, a 3-0 shutout and another one by a 1-0 count. That one, played in August at Stillwater, was more typical of Bedlam. The game-winner didn’t come until the 78th minute.“It’s always close,” OSU coach Colin Carmichael said. “You never have an easy game with your rivals. It was a setup for failure for us. We knew coming in that we would get OU’s best shot. It wasn’t a game I particularly wanted. But our team knows how to win. They know how to get it done.”
OSU threatened to finally break the ice Wednesday in the 66th minute when Elizabeth DeLozier sent down a header away from Devonshire at the other side of the net. But Sooners defender Katharine Nutman saved the try with her foot right at the goal mouth and the score stayed scoreless.
In a scoreless first half, the Cowgirls got three shots onto Devonshire -- one of them a ball that forward Krista Lopez bounced off the crossbar.
OU matched any aggression the Cowgirls might have shown before halftime. The Sooners also had three shots on goal. The best came in the 31st minute when Dria Hampton broke in on OSU goalkeeper Adrianna Franch from about 20 yards out and forced her low to snuff a low drive. Hampton looked to have a goal past Franch four minutes later, but was offsides.
It was Franch’s ninth shutout of the year and 29th of her career.