Kaylee Dao led the Sooner women in a huddle at the end of regulation, just before the first overtime period. Dao, and the rest of her team, put their arms in the air, showing confidence behind the player who could be one of the greatest Sooners to ever play on John Crain Field.
“For us, that's reuniting and getting on the same page,” said Dao of her pre-overtime speech, “and it gets us hyped and ready to go for the next segment of the game.”
In the 97th minute, just minutes after her speech, Dao headed in a corner kick that sealed Oklahoma’s 3-2 win Thursday night over Kansas State. It will undoubtedly be one of Dao’s greatest games played in her five-year career at OU, while contributing to her already magical senior season.
She called game. Again.
“The incredible thing about Kaylee is that everybody is fully aware of who she is, yet she still finds ways to put herself in a position to score a goal,” head coach Matt Potter said. “Tonight is another example of that. She's an inspirational player — she obviously leads the charge of our group, and we’re very fortunate to have her on our team.”
Dao recorded the first ‘hat trick’ of her career, scoring three goals while staying calm, cool and collected about her performance.
“I think for me it just helps to know that I'm contributing as much as possible this year,” Dao said. “Your redshirt senior year, you want to give all that you can to your team. For me, that's just a tangible thing that I can say I’ve given this year.”
When asked what it was like hitting her third golden goal of the season, Dao said, “It was pure elation, really.”
It does not take a soccer genius to understand what Dao brings to the table. She's the heart and soul of the Oklahoma soccer team and is one of the greatest to ever come through Norman, ranking in the top five in career goals. Dao is a leader, a playmaker and someone a team needs to make a postseason run.
Thursday, though, Dao and the rest of the Sooners played not only to win, but more importantly for another cause. The annual "pink game" honoring breast cancer awareness month was Thursday night and was full of emotion.
“A lot of people have family that have had breast cancer. We even had Madi Saliba, a player here a few years back who lost her mom to breast cancer during her career while she was here,” Dao said. “For us, it's just playing for something bigger than ourselves. My grandma had breast cancer, and it was my mom’s birthday. All those things put together made our team very motivated to play.”
The Sooners, led by Dao, played inspired soccer against Kansas State. There was a clear tempo the full length of the match — fast and full of effort.
The energy brought in this game could very well have been the difference in this one. "Pink night," playing for something bigger than the game, propelled the Sooners to victory.
“It just brings that added energy to the occasion,” Potter said. “And brings awareness to something that we hope in the future is something we no longer have to talk about.”
Oklahoma looks to build on its first Big 12 win of the season against Kansas at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 at home.