After promising 1st half, Lady Eagles fall 6-0 at No. 23 UCO

OC's Areli Bermudez Delgado prepares to make a throw-in against Central Oklahoma while teammate Sophia Brazil (17) breaks toward the ball.
OC's Areli Bermudez Delgado prepares to make a throw-in against Central Oklahoma while teammate Sophia Brazil (17) breaks toward the ball.

EDMOND, Okla. (Sept. 5, 2013) – At halftime, trailing by only a goal to heavily favored Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Christian felt good about its chances to pull off what would have been a major upset.

But UCO, ranked No. 23 in NCAA Division II, had other ideas. The Bronchos poured in five goals in a span of 13½ minutes in the second half to pull away for a 6-0 win over OC in the season opener for both teams on a hot Thursday afternoon at Tom Thompson Field.

UCO (1-0) has never lost to OC (0-1) in seven meetings between the teams. UCO coach Mike Cook said he hoped the Bronchos and Lady Eagles – whose campuses are separated by only about four miles – now will be able to play annually, with OC in the process of seeking Division II membership.

OC coach Randall Robison said the game against UCO – a perennial regional and national power in Division II – provided the Lady Eagles with a yardstick of what they need to do to become competitive as a Division II program.

“We knew we’d be up against a tough team,” Robison said. “UCO is a very athletic and very talented team. Like we told the girls, they’re not nationally ranked just out of a random draw. They’ve earned everything that they’ve gotten over the years.

“We walk away from this game saying, ‘That’s where we want to be’ and now we know what we need to work on. If we want to be playing at that level in the future, now we know what that is.”

The Lady Eagles’ back line played terrific soccer during the first half, three times clearing away dangerous balls in the penalty area when UCO threatened. The Bronchos’ only goal came in the 39th minute, when Tess Barnard lobbed a 35-yard blast over the head of OC goalkeeper Lindsey Williams.

OC just missed an equalizer moments later, as Estefania Bermudez Delgado fired wide past the UCO goal. That proved to be the Lady Eagles’ best scoring chance of the day.

The Bronchos poured it on after halftime. In the 48th minute, Emily Hahn collected a loose ball about 10 yards in front of the goal and beat Williams. About three minutes later, Ashley McDaniel delivered a pass to Kate Foran, who scored from about 15 yards out.

Seventy-four seconds after that, Kenna Dyess gave UCO a 4-0 lead. In the 60th minute, Quinn Tookey headed in a cross from Jordan Hutchison. Voss, who assisted Dyess’ goal, scored one of her own just 56 seconds after Hutchison’s goal.

“The first half, I think we kind of set the tone of the game of shooting ourselves in the foot by not keeping the ball on our feet,” Robison said. “We gave away too many passes and made the game too easy for them.

“We let things get away from us at the start of the second half.  We didn’t absorb their pressure well at all. We dropped back into a shell, rather than sticking to our game plan. We came out of halftime wanting to make sure we possessed the ball more and kept the ball on our feet much more and we did exactly the opposite.”

The Bronchos outshot OC 27-7. UCO goalkeeper Brandi Bartley made three saves in about 69½ minutes of work. Williams had five saves in 69:15 of work, while Anna Walker came off the bench to record four saves in 20:45 of playing time.

OC will play its home opener Saturday at 6 p.m. against Bethel (Kan.).