Women’s soccer defeats Oklahoma State, clinches regular season Big 12 title

Evan Vieth, Sports reporter

In a windy matchup between two of the best teams in the Big 12, No. 23 Texas came out victorious over Oklahoma State in sophomore midfielder Lexi Missimo’s first full start since returning from injury.

Missimo and the Longhorns’ overall midfield presence was the key to the Longhorns’ 2-1 win on Sunday, which also clinched at least a share of the regular season Big 12 championship.

Though sophomore Ashlyn Miller filled in well in Missimo’s absence, Missimo turns the Longhorns’ midfield into one of the best in the nation. She, paired alongside sophomore Jilly Shimkin and senior Emma Regan, created both scoring chances for the Longhorns and the trio was integral to controlling the final 10 minutes of the game.

Shimkin’s individual skill was the highlight of the first half. In the 30th minute, the futsal world champion found a one-on-one situation with a defender on the right side of the goal box. Shimkin made a move, nutmegging her defender, and had a chance on goal right at the foul line. The Penn State transfer slotted a shot right past Oklahoma State goalkeeper Jordan Nytes, giving the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.

Shimkin’s goal put her on an even six goals and six assists on the season, an impressive feat for the young transfer student who has already made a huge impact on the midfield. Her 18 points on the year put her in the top five in the conference, joining sophomore teammates Missimo and Trinity Byars. 

Just 15 minutes after halftime, Byars turned up the heat on the Cowgirls’ defense. Though Oklahoma State runs a conservative five-defender formation, Byars almost single-handedly tore through on two occasions. After a beautiful pass from Shimkin, Byars was poised to score her 14th goal of the season. But in a one-on-one with Nytes, Byars shot just right of the goal post and the Cowgirls dodged a bullet.

Or so they thought. Just one minute later, Byars dispossessed an Oklahoma State player, managed to weave her way through the defense and finished past Nytes to give the Longhorns a comfortable 2-0 lead. Byars continues her dominance in the Big 12 with 14 goals. No other player in the conference has double-digit goals. She also leads all Power 5 conferences in goals and points with 37 on the year.

Texas didn’t just cruise to victory, however, as the Cowgirls added to the scoreboard with just 12 minutes to play. Freshman midfielder Xcaret Pineda received a short pass about 30 yards away from the goal and unleashed a strike into the top-left corner. Graduate goalkeeper Savannah Madden stood no chance, and suddenly Oklahoma State had the chance to secure a tie against the Longhorns.

With the crowd loudly cheering on the Cowgirls and the winds against them, the Longhorns secured the victory. The important 2-1 victory keeps the Longhorns’ unbeaten conference record intact. Miller was sent off with just one second left for her red card, but the ensuing free kick led to nothing.

With just one game remaining on the regular season schedule and a 6-0-2 conference record, the Longhorns earned the program’s second Big 12 Conference regular season title, which is its first since 2001. 

No. 23 Texas will face Oklahoma to wrap up the regular season on Thursday before the Big 12 Tournament begins next Sunday.