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Bittersweet Memory: Cowgirls fall to No. 23 Texas on Senior Day

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#11 Grace Yochum

Grace Yochum (left) embraces teammates during OSU's Senior Day ceremony.

An emotional Grace Yochum walked through a tunnel of hovering teammates. Teammates— both new and old— who have been by her side since July of this year when the team reported back to campus for preseason training. 

As the smoke guns sounded off in the student section, orange haze flowed through the air, hovering over all 12 seniors being honored post-match. Yochum reached the end of the tunnel of her teammates, tears visibly rolled down her red, rosy cheeks. She was no longer able to hold back the emotions that came with Senior Day. 

Of course she had already experienced the senior day ceremony last season in a home win over bitter rival Oklahoma— both her and Ally Jackson had. However, this time, it was official. Yochum, along with the 11 other seniors present, just played their last home match at Neal Patterson Stadium. 

“I wasn’t always supposed to go here so it was definitely a God thing, the reason I’m here,” Yochum said. “(My time at OSU) has truly been the best experience of my life. I’ve loved every minute of it, and I feel like I just got here. I can’t believe I’m here on (Senior day). It’s been nothing short of amazing.” 

While there was certainly a bitter taste left in the coaches’ and players’ mouths after OSU’s (10-3-4, 3-2-3) narrow 2-1 loss to No. 23 Texas (12-1-4, 6-0-2), the sentimental value outweighed any feelings a loss provided. 

“It’s just crazy that this is my last time playing (at Neal Patterson Stadium,” Jackson said. “You know, I’ve been playing with Grace (Yochum) here for like five years now and it’s all coming to an end… My last (senior day ceremony) didn’t really feel real because we both knew we were coming back, but this year it’s like we definitely know (it’s over).” 

A back-and-forth contest for or the majority of the first shifted in the Longhorns’ direction when Jilly Shimkin scored in the 30th minute.  The Longhorn midfielder megged OSU wingback Blythe Beldner to fit a well-placed ball through the hands of star goalkeeper Jordy Nytes. 

After Texas’ dominant first half, OSU coach Colin Carmichael placed emphasis on a more aggressive approach in the second half.

“I told our girls they were going to break,” Carmichael said. “I told them to just go out, be aggressive in the second half, and see what happens.” 

The increase in aggressiveness showed, as OSU recorded four shots on goal within the first three minutes in the second half. None were a goal. OSU had its fair share of good looks, winning the time of possession battle in the second half of Sunday’s match. Yet, the inability to convert on the most golden of opportunities plagued the Cowgirls as it had all season. 

Texas added another in the second half. OSU’s goal from Xcaret Pineda in the 78th minute from outside of penalty box seemed like a footnote in the match. 

The result didn’t seem real to the players, the seniors, the coaches who had spent the past four to five seasons alongside them or even the fans in the stands at Neal Patterson Stadium. The Longhorns clinched the Big 12 regular season title, eliminating any shot of OSU claiming one for the first time since 2019. 

Sunday’s loss will serve as a bittersweet memory in the minds of OSU’s seniors. 

“I love these girls (and) I love these coaches,” Yochum said. “You know, it’s a testament to this program and the culture here. They really have something special. Of course, we came up a bit short today but you know, it’s truly an amazing place. Everyone that comes here has these new stories of how they (come out) a better person, and I just hope I’ve left my mark here.”