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Palmer's OT Goal Defeats Aggies
November 05, 2010
SAN ANTONIO - Oklahoma's Whitney Palmer scored on a rebound goal after Dria Hampton's try hit the left post, and the Sooners advanced to their first Big 12 Championship final by beating top-seeded Texas A&M 1-0 in an overtime semifinal match Friday.

"It's a huge step," Sooners coach Nicole Nelson said. "In the last five games we've played top 25 teams in every game and won three of those five, and you're talking about storied, traditional, nationally recognized programs. Those are very good wins for us. We're just going after it."

The fourth-seeded Sooners (12-7-2, 5-4-1) advance to Sunday's championship game against the winner of the Nebraska-Oklahoma State semifinal. The final game starts at noon at Blossom Soccer Stadium and will be televised by Fox Sports Network. This was only the third time the top four seeds had advanced to the semifinals, and the first time in six years.

Top-seeded Texas A&M (16-4-1, 8-1-1 and ranked sixth nationally) will wait until Monday for word on their bid into the NCAA Tournament, which will be the Aggies' 16th straight appearance.

The game-winner came 1 ½ minutes into the overtime period. When Hampton got off the first kick, it bounced against the low post right back to the middle where Palmer was waiting.

"I just knew when it hit the post that someone is finishing this," Hampton said. "As soon as I saw Whitney's No. 8 (jersey), I said 'Goal.'"

It was the fourth game-winner for Palmer, a senior from Plano, Texas, and her team-leading ninth goal overall this year for OU.

"I was just there to finish it," she said. "We knew we could keep it down on their end."

The contest headed to overtime after two tries in the final minute by the Aggies. Whitney Hooper sent one in front that curved away from the goal but Kelsey Devonshire still dived out to handle. And with 23 seconds left, Alyssa Mautz sailed one just high of the crossbar from past 40 yards.

It's the second straight shutout for Devonshire. She saved seven shots in the opening match Friday, a 1-0 victory over Texas and had six more against the Aggies.

"She came up big time for us," Nelson said. "(Texas A&M) is good going forward, a very lethal team going forward. When they get shots off it's near the goal. I was really proud of the saves she made and her composure."

The Aggies had won the regular-season meeting, 2-1, against OU in double overtime two weeks ago at College Station. Devonshire, a sophomore from North Richland Hills, Texas, handled 12 shots on goal in that one.

Though it was a scoreless game after the first half, the action was fast paced. OU took twice as many shots as the Aggies, but the ones the Aggies got looked to be better opportunities to break the ice. They managed to get three on goal, all of them from Merritt Mathias.

Her best opportunity popped up after midfielder Raven Tatum came away with a steal in the 26th minute and advanced the ball right away. She passed to Merritt, who got stopped by Devonshire 10 yards away from the goal.

The Sooners could only answer that first-half action with one shot on goal, but the best chance they had before halftime came on a counterattack in the 33rd minute. Just a moment earlier Mathias had wound up on a shot near the OU goal but couldn't get her foot on it in traffic. When Carly Wohlers rebounded high over the crossbar, the Sooners sent the goal kick downfield and soon found Michelle Alexander about 20 yards in front of Texas A&M keeper Kristin Arnold. But her try missed just wide right.

Merritt was the most productive offensive player on the field with five shots on goal for the night, and she had two chances on free kicks in the second half. One got through OU's wall and Devonshire had to lunge to her left to flag it down five minutes into the second half.

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