Knoxville, Tenn. - The Oklahoma soccer team fired 14 shots from six players, but it was not enough to topple Tennessee on Friday night in the Sooners' season opener. OU fell by a score of 1-3 to the Lady Vols in front of 1,524 fans at Regal Soccer Stadium.
"While defeat never sits well, we have a great deal to be proud of tonight," Head coach Matt Potter said. "We came to play and for large parts of the game showed great endeavor and creativity. The difference in the game was the quality in front of the goal and Tennessee showed what good teams do when they are given opportunities."
Tennessee struck early in the contest, with Tori Bailey sending an unassisted shot past OU goalkeeper Kassadie Stade to put the Lady Vols up 1-0 at the 12:17 mark. Both teams dug in for the next 25 minutes, with the Sooners racking up nine shots over the course of the first half. UT managed a response to OU's efforts, with Eckel notching five saves in the first half alone to maintain Tennessee's lead.
The Sooners' lone goal of the evening came on a penalty kick from sophomore Devin Barrett. After a foul in the box late in the first half, Barrett lined up and fired a shot past Eckel to put Oklahoma on the board before halftime.
With the match locked at 1-1, UT picked up its second goal from Caroline Brown to take a 2-1 lead. The score came at the 44:37 mark, just 23 seconds prior to halftime.
The Lady Vols posted their final goal of the evening right out of the gates after halftime, with Cheyenne Spade scoring at the 48:52 mark. The score of 3-1 would stand for the remainder of the match, though OU send several more powerful kicks at Eckel in an attempt to chip away at the lead. Freshman Madison Saliba came especially close for the Sooners, forcing Eckel to make a diving save at the far post at the 62:08 mark.
A total of 11 OU roster members made their collegiate soccer debuts in Knoxville, including the six true freshmen who started for Potter: Madison Kinzer, Shiloh Price, Jemma Cota, Rachel Ressler, Paige Jacobs and Jamie Iurato. Redshirt freshman Stade also made her first career start at goalkeeper for Oklahoma, notching a save in 90 minutes of play.
"Congratulations to the 11 players who made their college debut this evening," Potter said. "If we learn from the lessons of this game, we have much to look forward to. Sunday presents the next opportunity against a good Kennesaw State team, so we will need to rest up and prepare accordingly."
Oklahoma will wrap up their opening weekend on Sunday, Aug. 23 with an 11 a.m. CT match against Kennesaw State. The contest will take place in Knoxville, Tenn., at Regal Soccer Stadium.