DALLAS (SMU) – Last weekend’s exhibition match against Oklahoma State marked the first appearance for Claire Oates as a Mustang. The freshman started in the central midfield and scored a key, game-tying goal in the 83rd minute for SMU.
The Long Beach, California native, put away a loose ball inside the box and then nearly won the game for the Mustangs when her shot skidded off the top of the crossbar with seconds remaining.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Oates about scoring in her collegiate debut. “As a freshman, just having that feeling of scoring your first career college goal is exciting.”
Oates played high school soccer at Woodrow Wilson Classic, where she earned all-league and all-region honors. As a senior, she was named the team’s Offensive MVP. Oates also excelled for her club team, Slammers FC ECNL out of Newport Beach, California. She served as the team’s captain in 2013 and 2014. Judging by her performance against Oklahoma State, Oates appears to be making a smooth transition to college soccer.
“It’s definitely different and a lot faster,” Oates said. “But the transition has been going well.”
The midfielder will play a key role for the Mustangs, who are looking to improve on their eighth-place finish in the American Athletic Conference last season. The Mustangs have set goals of competing for the league title and earning a bid to the NCAA tournament.
“I just want to make an impact and contribute,” Oates said about her role on the team.
SMU kicks off their season Friday night with a match at 13th-ranked Nebraska at 6 p.m. CT. On Sunday, the Mustangs will head to Kansas for a 1 p.m. CT match. Sunday’s contest will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
Oates Quick Facts
Prior to SMU: Oates played club soccer for Slammers FC ECNL in Newport Beach, Calif... Served as captain in 2013 and 2014... Also played high school soccer at Woodrow Wilson Classic High School where she earned numerous honors in 2013, including NSCAA/Adidas All-Region, All-CIF first team, All-Moore League first team, team Offensive MVP and Excalibur All-Tournament team recognition... Graduated as a four-year distinguished scholar with a 4.24 GPA.
Oates on SMU: “When I came on campus, I just had that feeling that this was the school. I really liked all of the coaches and the girls, and it seemed like a good fit for me.”