As the second overtime wound down at Jim Crane Field on Thursday night, the Sooners remained locked in a 2-2 tie with Texas. Just a couple of hours earlier, redshirt senior Kaylee Dao had celebrated Senior night with a massive crowd of friends and family. With her team and her loved ones behind her for her last game in Norman, she wasn’t going down without a fight in her team's 3-2 overtime loss to Texas.
The Sooners started off hot on the night, taking the lead in the fourth minute on a goal by freshman midfielder Maya McCutcheon with an assist from Dao, but the offense went silent after that.
The Longhorns responded with a goal from senior forward Cyera Hintzen in the 20th minute, followed by a score from freshman forward Sydney Nobles in the 39th minute, giving Texas a 2-1 lead at the break.
As the Sooners huddled up to prepare for the second half, signs of life were present as they jogged in place trying to keep warm. The scoring freeze couldn’t hold for much longer.
The breakthrough came in the 68th minute, as sophomore forward Jazzy Richards nailed her first career goal on an assist by senior midfielder Kristina O’Donnell. A quiet finish to a ball dominant regulation for the Sooners led them to their single season program record 10th overtime of the year.
Kaylee Dao had been double teamed for the majority of the second period of regulation, but with time running out for the Sooners, she knew she had to make a move. Eventually, her teammates got her the ball in space, and everyone in the stadium held their breath as her perfectly lined up shot took flight at the 104th minute.
The result was not what everyone had anticipated, as Dao’s shot was barely tipped by opposing goalkeeper Savannah Madden, rolling wide right and out of play.
“I thought I had it. Honestly, the keeper made a fantastic save,” Dao said after the game. “I don’t miss those point blank.”
Dao wouldn’t have another chance at her fourth golden goal of the season, as Texas sophomore Cameron Brooks notched her own in the 107th minute, sealing a 3-2 win for the Longhorns.
“Different day, the game belongs to us,” Oklahoma head coach Matt Potter said. “Sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way, and today was one of those.”
Though seniors Dao, O’Donnell and Ivanna Rivas failed to convert any of their 10 combined shots during the contest, they certainly made their presence felt on senior night. The assists by Dao and O’Donnell loomed extremely large, as the final score would have looked much different without them.
“Our seniors put everything out there, and you feel for them because they did everything but win the game,” Potter said. “That’s what they’ve done all year; led the way, and showed the enthusiasm, and energy, and the passion to play, and I’m very proud of them for that.”
Despite the loss being her last game ever at Jim Crane Field, Dao wouldn’t have changed anything.
“The wins and the losses, you learn and you grow so much through both," Dao said, "and the moments that I’ve had with my teammates and my coaches, I wouldn’t take anything back.”
Though their regular season didn’t end the way they wanted, the Sooners will look forward to boosting their chances at an NCAA tournament birth in the upcoming Big 12 Soccer Championship. OU will take on Oklahoma State in the quarterfinal round at 11: 30 a.m. CT on Nov. 3 in Kansas City.