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Cowgirl midfielders keep up pressure to upset No. 5 Florida

OSU soccer vs. Florida

Jaci Jones dribbles past a defender during OSU's soccer game vs. Florida on Aug. 26, 2018, at Neal Patterson Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (DEVIN LAWRENCE WILBER/O'COLLY)

For the first 13 minutes, the ball didn’t enter the Oklahoma State women’s soccer team’s defensive third of the field.

Physical play from the midfield help set up OSU’s game-winning goal in double overtime against Florida on Sunday at Neal Patterson Stadium. The Cowgirls claimed a 1-0 victory against the Gators, the fifth-ranked team in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.

Coach Colin Carmichael stacked the attacking side of the field to start the match.

“We changed our shape a little bit, we went with two high and three midfielders,” Carmichael said.

Seconds into the match, the Cowgirl midfield stole the ball and quickly pushed up the field. A through ball gave forward Haley Woodard a chance to score, but she couldn’t connect.

Two minutes later, another loose ball steal set up Woodard for another chance at goal. Again, she couldn’t connect, this time with a header sailing over the crossbar.

“I thought we created some really good looks, especially in the first half,” Carmichael said.

Sophomore Hannah Webb played a key role in the Cowgirls’ dominance in the midfield. Webb’s only chance to take a breather was at halftime, as she played all of regular time.

After the match, Webb was exhausted but excited about the outcome.

“Not gonna lie, I’m very tired, but it doesn’t even matter in the end,” Webb said.

Carmichael described Webb as an engine and one of the best players on the field.

One of the main points of action for the Cowgirl midfielders was to catch the Gators’ defense off-guard.

Numerous times, one of the midfielders stole the ball and immediately kicked a through ball to a forward.

Woodard and senior Marlo Zoller received opportunities to score, but the Cowgirls (3-0) couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net for all of regular time.

With a scoreless game after 90 minutes, OSU entered its first overtime of the season.

Webb continued to play throughout the first part of overtime, still helping the Cowgirls deny the Gators (2-2) any chances.

Even with chances for the Cowgirls and Gators in the first half of overtime, the goalkeepers’ athletic saves kept the match scoreless.

In the 102nd minute, midfielders Jaci Jones and Julia Lenhardt applied pressure to an opposing midfielder and stole the ball.

Lenhardt pushed up the field about 10 yards and passed the ball to Zoller, giving her a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

After numerous failed chances earlier in the match, Zoller redeemed herself and put the ball in the right post from 14 yards out.

Webb played 102 minutes, the second-highest number of minutes she has played in her career.

“In the end, it doesn’t even matter because Marlo had an awesome goal, and it makes it all worth it,” Webb said.

After losing to Florida last season 7-2, the Cowgirls got the retribution they wanted with the overtime win.

“It’s great to know that the midfield will work its socks off,” Carmichael said. “I wouldn’t want to play against them. They wouldn’t give you a minute. It was really nice.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com