Texas beat Oklahoma soundly tonight in front of 1,850 fans at Mike Myers Stadium. Both Texas goals came from Hannah Higgins who was a streak of orange fire across the field.
The game started flat for both sides. Oklahoma rolled a couple of soft balls on goal in the first few minutes and Texas responded by doing the same. While the Horns got off to a slow start, their eventual rise in tempo would leave Texas fans thrilled with the team’s performance on the night.
Taylor Knaack, working down low in the Oklahoma end, earned the first corner kick of the evening. Knaack served in a high floating ball that eventually found Hannah Higgins who went wide right with a shot.
At the 10:00, Kristin Cummins took a rolling shot on goal from distance which was easily wrapped up by OU’s keeper, Kelsey Devonshire.
Near the 12 minute mark, Oklahoma began applying pressure. At 12:06, Michelle Alexander, one of the Sooners’ leading scorers, crossed a beautiful ball into the Texas goal area. OU looked poised to score but didn’t get a shot off, and Texas managed to clear.
At 15:00, another great opportunity materialized for the Sooners. In a fracas in front of Texas’ goal, Caitlin Mooney for Oklahoma, got a point blank shot off which was saved by the Texas keeper, Alexa Gaul. Moments later OU’s Michelle Alexander took a shot from distance which was again saved by Gaul. Texas was on its back heels.
Finally in the 19th minute, Texas broke out of its own end. Nina Frausing Pedersen ran the ball forward and passed to Hannah Higgins who got the ball up to Vanessa Ibewuike. Ibewuike stopped at the top of the 18 yard box and got off a soft shot which easily wrapped up by OU’s keeper Kelsey Devonshire.
After the goal kick, though, Texas immediately turned the ball back toward the Oklahoma half. Ibewuike, dissatisfied with her shot a moment earlier, placed a stunning cross directly into the OU goalmouth where a streaking Hannah Higgins flew in and got her foot on the ball. She tipped it past the OU keeper for Texas’s first goal of the night, coming at 20:16. Asked about her goal later, Hannah responded, “It went off my shin pad!” Texas was up 1-0.
At 23:05, Clarissa Wedemeyer came on for Kristin Cummins. This was Clarissa’s first time on the field as Longhorn. Having suffered a foot injury this past summer and subsequently missing Texas’ first twelve games, it was great to see the Texas freshman out on the field. Clarissa would finish the night with 34 minutes of playing time
At 28:05, Leah Payne checked in for Whitney Jaynes, followed by Gabby Zarnegar checking in for Taylor Knaack at 28:51.
After Leah Payne came in, Texas Head Coach Chris Petrucelli made an interesting change on the back line. He moved Nina Frausing Pedersen to the outside at left back and put Leah Payne at center back in the position we’ve seen Nina occupy all season. (See post-game quotes below for Coach Petrucelli’s comments on this.)
At 32:22, the Texas side received a yellow card for a defensive foul just outside their own box. A free kick was given to OU at 25 yards out. Texas formed the wall inside their box and Dria Hampton took the kick for the Sooners. Hampton’s kick went around the right side of the wall but fortunately exactly to where Alexa Gaul was standing. Alexa wrapped up the shot ball without difficulty.
Just a minute later, Oklahoma committed a foul at midfield and Alexa Gaul came out of goal to take the kick for Texas. Gaul hit a boomer into the wind which was collected up front by Hannah Higgins. Hannah ripped a shot which flew over the OU goal.
At 33:15, Allison Smith checked in for Hannah Higgins, and then, incredibly, at 39:28, Kylie Doniak came on for Vanessa Ibewuike. Kylie played with a knee brace for support and to help protect a torn ACL. She’s missed the last three games, but Friday night she obviously couldn’t be kept off the field any longer. Kylie played a little over five minutes in the first half and would come back again at the end of the second.
With under four minutes left in the half, Kelsey Kraft of OU took a booming shot from distance at Texas’ goal. The shot flew high toward the goalmouth. Alexa leaped to try to tip it over, but fortunately the ball hit the top of the crossbar and went over the back.
At 41:39, Stacey-Ann Smith checked in for Lexi Harris
The last play of the half for the Horns was a corner kick by Allison Smith which was cleared by OU.
In the second, Allison Smith started at midfield for Brooke Gilbert.
Taylor Knaack got a couple of good looks early, getting one shot off which went wide. Seconds later, Allison Smith, deciding she wanted to add from her tally from Missouri last week, fired a shot which banged off the crossbar.
In the 56th minute, a foul by Oklahoma led to a free kick for Texas. Lucy Keith served in a ball that Hannah Higgins found near the OU goal, but her header missed wide. Texas turned back Kelsey Devonshire’s goal kick and Vanessa Ibewuike brought the ball up near the Oklahoma 18 yard box. A Sooner defender knocked the ball away from Vanessa, and it bounced out to Kristin Cummins in the corner of the box. Kristin ripped a shot which was saved by Kelsey Devonshire.
At 57:54, Gabby Zarnegar came on for Hannah Higgins, followed by Leah Payne for Whitney Jaynes and Brooke Gilbert for Lexi Harris at 60:23
At about the 64th minute, a beautiful play occurred. Vanessa Ibewuike ran upfield in to the left side of Oklahoma’s box. A Sooner defender backpedaled between Vanessa and the goal. Just as Vanessa appeared to make a charge toward the back line, she suddenly stopped and cut back to her right, moving with the ball across the goal mouth. A second defender came across to prevent Vanessa getting a shot off, and Vanessa passed the ball through to open space in front of the goal around 16 yards out. Brooke Gilbert, the nearest Horns player, came up to the ball in a “look what I found” moment. Unfortunately the suddenness of finding the ball in open space directly in front of goal was too much for the surprised Gilbert who fired the ball over the crossbar. The set-up by Ibewuike, though, was stunning.
At 66:08, after an eight minute rest, Hannah Higgins came back on for Vanessa Ibewuike.
Four minutes after coming back onto the field, Hannah Higgins ripped a shot from 30 yards out that went in left post! It was a colossal strike, well placed to the left side. Oklahoma’s keeper, Kelsey Devonshire, dove for it but couldn’t make the save. Hannah Higgins had her second goal of the evening.
Moments later, Gabby Zarnegar made a run down the left side and served in a cross with Hannah Higgins threatening again. Kelsey Devonshire came out to wrap the ball up, though, before Higgins could get another shot off.
In the 80th minute, Vanessa Ibewuike checked back into the game, this time for Gabby Zarnegar. Seconds later, Vanessa had a big run up field. She passed the ball across to Hannah Higgins who overran the ball slightly and had to stop to collect it. Hannah, realizing she had no more play to make, quickly passed across to Taylor Knaack who ripped a shot off the right post from about 16 yards out. Knaack very nearly had her fourth goal of the year.
Ibewuike went down on the play and had to come out of the game. Allison Smith checked in for her at 80:10.
After a foul right at midfield by Oklahoma, Alexa Gaul came out of goal to take the free kick for Texas. With a strong wind at her back, Alexa elected to take a cheeky 50 yard shot on goal. The ball sailed on goal, bouncing once before being collected by Kelsey Devonshire. Unfortunately, the Texas stat keeper did not give a shot on goal to Alexa for her effort.
At 83:21, Kylie Doniak came on for Taylor Knaack.
In the 85th minute, the ubiquitous Hannah Higgins passed a ball to Allison Smith who fired a shot on goal. Kelsey Devonshire made a great save, punching the ball back out into the box. Higgins knocked it down and fired again, but this time it was blocked.
In the closing seconds of the game Whitney Jaynes and Kylie Doniak did a great job of burning time by holding the ball down in the left corner of Oklahoma’s end. The game ended in a 2-0 victory for Texas.
Hannah Higgins scored both goals for Texas, registering her second and third goals of the season. Combined with her 8 assists on the year, Hannah is now the points leader for the Horns.
Post-game interview with Chris Petrucelli
Q: When Leah Payne checked in for Whitney Jaynes, you moved Nina to the outside and Leah to center back. Can you tell us about that change?
Chris Petrucelli: We’re trying to work Whitney in, obviously (we’re) without Amanda (Lisberger), so we’re trying to work Whitney in. She’s young, she needs a little time. I’m trying not to throw her in for 90 minutes and tire her out. And certainly I don’t want her to make a mistake. I’d like to try to get her confidence going more and more. So our idea is to try to get Whitney more time, but in the interim we can use, you know, Leah’s done well for four years for us and Nina’s played wide some in her career as well.
By The Numbers:
Running Forever (mids and forwards): Brooke Gilbert (75 minutes on the field), Hannah Higgins (70 minutes), Kristin Cummins (68 minutes), Taylor Knaack (67 minutes).
Ironwomen (defenders): Lucy Keith (90 minutes), Nina Frausing Pedersen (90 minutes), Julie Arnold (79 minutes)
In goal: Alexa Gaul, 4 saves (90 minutes in goal)
Alexa Gaul posted her 5th shutout of the season
Other starter minutes:
Lexi Harris, 63 minutes
Vanessa Ibewuike, 62 minutes
Whitney Jaynes, 58 minutes
Sub player minutes:
Allison Smith, 49 minutes
Leah Payne, 43 minutes
Gabby Zarnegar, 37 minutes
Clarissa Wedemeyer, 34 minutes
Kylie Doniak, 12 minutes
Stacey-Ann Smith, 3 minutes
Texas shots: 4 in first half, 10 in second half (Total: 14 shots)
6 of the 14 Texas shots were on goal, with 2 going in.
Shots on goal percentage: 43%
Oklahoma shots: 8 in first half, 2 in second half (Total: 10 shots)
4 of the 10 Oklahoma shots were on goal, with none going in
Shots on goal percentage: 40%
• Corner kicks: Texas 6, Oklahoma 3
Number of sub players with 10 minutes or more:
Texas 5, Oklahoma 6
Shots by subs: Texas 2, Oklahoma 1
Goals by subs: Texas 0, Oklahoma 0
Fouls: Texas 3, Oklahoma 8
Yellow Cards: Texas 1, Oklahoma 0
RPI Tracker: Texas’ RPI number after the Oklahoma win is 67.
Generally speaking, Texas will need an RPI significantly above 64 to make the NCAA Tournament which starts November 12th. They can also make the NCAA Tournament automatically by winning the Big 12 Tournament which starts on November 2nd. (Oklahoma’s RPI is now down at 116. They will not make the tournament this year unless they win the Big 12 Tournament.)