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Sooners Fall In Big 12 Soccer Championship

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri -

It was an outstanding Big 12 Soccer Championship run by Oklahoma.

In a match that could have gone either way, the Sooners came up short in the championship final to the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers in a 1-0 decision. Oklahoma (10-8-4) outshot WVU (16-2-3) 12-10, including a 7-4 mark in the second half, but couldn't quite find an equalizing goal to send the match to overtime.

Following the match, Oklahoma had a program-record four team members named to the All-Big 12 Tournament team, the second-highest total of all league teams. Defenders Madeline Brem and Laura Rayfield joined midfielder Abby Hodgen and forward Devin Barrett as all-tournament selections.

The loss caps a stellar Big 12 Championship performance by Oklahoma, which finishes in second place despite entering as a No. 6 seed. The Sooners consistently outplayed their foes to the tune of a 40-32 shot advantage, including 16-10 edge on shots on goal, and eight saves.

WVU had the lone strike of the match in the 12th minute when Kate Schwindel nudged in a ball from Amanda Hall. OU goalkeeper Kaitlyn Fahrner nearly had a handle on the ball, but it slipped through her fingertips and into the goal to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead.

Oklahoma controlled the tempo for much of the contest, consistently putting the Mountaineers on their heels in the offensive attack and playing outstanding defense. The Sooners were particularly dominant in the second half, picking up three shots on goal against a strong WVU defense while allowing none from the Mountaineers.

After an early shot with Hodgen, who tied with Tori Bowman with three attempts to lead the team, the Sooners found the goal again in the 25th minute when Rayfield connected with Brem on a well-placed free kick. Brem's header was on-target, but WVU goalkeeper Hannah Steadman was there to control the save.

West Virginia countered with early pressure in the second half, but the Oklahoma defense didn't break. The Mountaineers drove right down the field and into the box in the 39th minute and Oklahoma's defenders were there, poking away the ball and clearing out the danger.

Tori Bowman came up big in the second half for the Sooners, coming off the bench for three shots. All three attempts were major threats for WVU as Bowman used her height to connect on a trio of headers. Her first swung wide left in the 52nd minute, but the true freshman forced Steadman to make a save in the 56th minute as well.

Perhaps Oklahoma's closest chance of the half came at the under-two mark, when Bowman sent in a header off a free kick from Rayfield that slipped just inches wide of the goal. Just minutes later, the 1-0 decision was final.

Under the leadership of third-year head coach Matt Potter, Oklahoma is now the first team in conference history to go to the league title match after finishing last in the previous season. Potter is also the first coach in OU soccer history to take his team to the conference tournament final within their first three seasons at the helm.

OU will learn its NCAA tournament fate tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m. CT. The tournament selection show will air at NCAA.com.

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