MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team gave visiting Big 12 Conference powerhouse Oklahoma State all they could handle, holding the Cowgirls scoreless until the 85th minute, before dropping the 1-0 decision at Skyhawk Field on Friday night.
In front of a near record crowd, the Skyhawks looked to pick up where they left off in 2012 by pushing perennial contender Oklahoma State to the brink in the season opener. The Skyhawks would not back down on the evening as both teams battled in a physical affair, seeing a combined 37 fouls in the matchup.
Senior Hannah McGowen led the Skyhawk offense with two of the team’s seven shots this evening. Aoife Lennon, Alyssa Curtis, Ellie Myrick, Lucy Pater and Abi Sanvee also accounted for one shot apiece tonight for UT Martin, who outshot the Cowgirls 5-4 in the first half but could only manage two shots in the second half.
Skyhawk goalkeeper Mariah Klenke faced eight shots on goal and made seven saves this evening.
Klenke registered her first save of the day at the 10:04 mark when OSU defender Delaney Kiely pushed a header into the box, keeping the match scoreless.
The Skyhawks would come out aggressive, challenging every ball and registering their first shot of the night at the 21:04 mark when McGowen put a shot on goal which Oklahoma State goalkeeper Rosa Medina wrangled for the save.
The Skyhawks and Cowgirls would exchange a pair of shots in the 26th minute. Myrick pushed the Skyhawk offense down the pitch before tallying her lone shot of the match at the 26:13 mark. OSU would not be outdone as forward Courtney Dike threatened with her first of seven shots in the match just 46 seconds later, sailing her attempt wide right.
UT Martin used a trio of shot attempts in the final five minutes of the first half to take a 5-4 shot advantage into the halftime break.
The Cowgirls came out of the intermission firing on all cylinders, tallying 14 shots in the second half before finding the deciding goal in the 85th minute. Madison Mercado’s fourth and final shot of the evening proved to be true after receiving an assist from Krissi Killion on the right side for the game-winner.
The Skyhawks would threaten with two late shots by Sanvee and Pater, but would ultimately not provide the equalizer as UT Martin dropped the season opener 1-0.
“I’ve got to give my players a lot of credit tonight,” said UT Martin head soccer coach Phil McNamara. “We had five players playing for UT Martin for the first time and I felt like they did outstanding for themselves and the team. Oklahoma State is an excellent program, with an excellent staff and players. We’re still working on our fitness but I thought our girls fought extremely hard throughout the entirety of the game.”
“There was a good balance of work between the newcomers and returners,” McNamara continued. “I felt like we were every bit as good as them in the first half and maybe even had one or two opportunities but just not enough good looks on the night. It was a brave performance overall from our players.”
UT Martin returns to action on Sunday when the Skyhawks play host to new Conference USA member Middle Tennessee on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m.