A rivalry that already had a special place in the Echols house now means even more, after Texas freshman Presley Echols scored her first career goal to beat Oklahoma 1-0 on Friday.
After sitting out the first two matches of the season, the 18-year-old from Highland Park made her debut in style, breaking the Longhorns’ scoring drought that had stretched to more than four hours to begin the season. Even better, she got bragging rights over her older sisters, Lauren and Alex, who both prefer crimson to burnt orange.
“It’s a big rivalry in my family,” she said. “My mom went to Texas and they both go to OU. I haven’t talked to them yet, but I bet they might be happy for me, but it’s always a rivalry.”
Echols started at forward, and she was in the right position in the 63rd minute when Haley Berg fired a low cross in from the right wing. After taking a touch to settle, Echols placed her right-footed shot past outstretched Oklahoma goalkeeper Nikki Panas.
“I had teammates all around me encouraging me, telling me to get any part of my body on the ball,” Echols said. “My coaches are very big on getting the ball in the back of the net. That’s the objective. When it came to me, I knew I had to do everything to put it in the back of the net.”
Frustration was starting to boil early in the second half. Texas had a goal disallowed for offside in the 35th minute, and Julia Grosso picked up a yellow card in the 51st after arguing that a ball appeared to strike an Oklahoma defender’s arm inside the penalty area.
Texas continued to pour on the pressure, but the season’s first tally proved elusive.
“If you can’t go through them you have to go around them or behind them,” Texas coach Angela Kelly said. “We worked on that all week, and just encouraged the players to stick to the plan.”
It worked, as Berg beat her defender to the end line to set up the pass to Echols. Texas will hope the goal is the first of many for Echols, who was a two-time state champion, twice Dallas Morning News player of the year and scored a school-record 158 goals despite having her senior season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For anybody to get a goal on their debut is fantastic,” Kelly said. “She’s been hungry. She scores a ton in training. She’s just a natural goal scorer, and you see that with her movements and her anticipation.”
Texas and Oklahoma played to a socially distanced crowd of 795 fans, including supporters groups for the MLS expansion team Austin FC who serenaded Mackenzie McFarland after the match for her 21st birthday.