No. 17 soccer caps regular season with win, takes sole possession of Big 12 regular season title


Lorianne Willett

Outside back Emma Regan runs downfield during Texas’ game against OU on October 27, 2022. The Longhorns beat the Sooners 3-1.

Evan Vieth, General Sports Reporter

The Longhorns capped off their regular season with a 3-1 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday night at Mike A. Myers Stadium, clinching sole possession of the regular season Big 12 title in the process.

Texas hasn’t been atop the Big 12 at the end of the regular season since 2001, and with the postseason on the horizon, the No. 17 Longhorns will try to win their first tournament championship since 2007.

“I just think they have a little bit of swagger,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “I think they believe the most important thing is their belief in one another.”

Sophomore striker Trinity Byars collected her 15th goal of the season, continuing her campaign as one of the best goal-scorers in the country. After a sloppy first 13 minutes, sophomore midfielder Lexi Missimo sent a long through ball down the middle of the field. In a footrace, Byars beat her man and had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, striking the shot right past her to give the Longhorns a lead. The goal put her one shy of tying the program record set by Kelly Wilson in 2004.  

Despite her prolific goal-scoring, Kelly’s biggest praise for Byars was her humility.

“She doesn’t want to do it for herself,” Kelly said. “She’s doing it for her teammates.”

Just three minutes after Byars’ run, senior midfielder Emma Regan sent a longshot from distance. The shot was placed beautifully, finding the top left of the goal right past the outstretched arms of senior goalie Makinzie Short. 

Texas didn’t cruise to victory, however, as the action-packed first half continued in Texas’ defensive end. After making a slick move inside of the box, Oklahoma’s sophomore forward Bailey Wesco attempted to get past sophomore defender EmJ Cox, who slipped and knocked Wesco down. Oklahoma was rewarded with a penalty kick.

Sophomore forward Leonie Weber stepped up to the spot for the Sooners and buried it past graduate student goalkeeper Savannah Madden, bringing the Sooners within a goal of tying the favored Longhorns.

The rivalry was on full display after half-time, as the riled-up crowd of over 1,700 fans aided the Longhorns’ attackers. Many chances were created, especially from the midfield duo of Missimo and sophomore midfielder Jilly Shimkin, but it was the defense that scored the first goal of the half. In the 61st minute, the Longhorns’ setpiece struck once again. Missimo whipped in a corner kick that found Cox’s, who headed the ball into the back of the net. 

Cox’s year has been an eventful one for the Longhorns. After Thursday’s match, she officially played every minute of the season. She’s tied for the second most goals as a defender on the team with six. 

“She’s a true competitor,” Kelly said. “I think that whole sophomore class … is really a talented group, number one class in the country for a reason.”

The Longhorns’ top four players in points on the season are all sophomores, and the 2020 recruiting class is already making its name heard, teaming up with a talented group of veterans to create a Big 12 championship-winning squad.

After finishing the regular season with a 13-1-4 record and going undefeated in conference play, Texas will play Kansas State on Sunday in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.

“Last game of the season, senior night, we were not sharing that championship,” Cox said. “We didn’t want to leave anything out on the field.”