One season ago, the Oklahoma State women’s soccer team suffered its first loss of the year to California on the road.
On a muggy Friday evening, OSU got its revenge. A strong offensive performance pushed the Cowgirls to a 3-1 victory against the Golden Bears at Neal Patterson Stadium.
Despite rainfall for most of the week in Stillwater, the new field at Neal Patterson Stadium was in ideal shape for play.
“The field is unbelievable,” said OSU coach Colin Carmichael. “That’s a credit to our field staff. It’s as if it never rained.”
In the 20th minute, Jaci Jones got the Cowgirls (5-1-0) on the board with her first goal of the season.
Cal’s goalkeeper, Amanda Zodikoff, saved Jones’ first shot, but the ball bounced right back to Jones. She calmly controlled the ricochet and put the ball past the keeper and into the left side of the goal.
With the hectic action in front of the net, Jones was surprised when she got another opportunity.
“The first time it fell to me and it wasn’t a very good hit,” Jones said. “But I got a second chance, and I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, OK.’”
OSU doubled its lead 14 minutes later with a Cal own goal. Zodikoff attempted to punch an incoming pass out of the box, but the ball was hit behind her and rolled into her net.
Marlo Zoller tacked on the final Cowgirl goal in the 51st minute with a long strike from outside the box.
The Cowgirls had a little extra motivation coming into the night with Cal lined up on the other side of the field.
“Last year, I feel like we went there and we were on this high … then it was just like a huge letdown,” Jones said. “So them coming here and beating them and everything was awesome.”
Despite a solid defensive performance, the Cowgirls had a few close calls early in the first half.
Soon after the match started, a strike from Cal’s Emma Westin rocketed past leaping goalkeeper Hannah Warner, but it sailed only inches over the crossbar. Grace Yochum, a Cowgirl freshman, also took one for the team, absorbing a line drive to the head to block a potential Cal goal.
Warner followed a strong game against Loyola-Chicago with another three-save performance, including a diving stop to prevent a goal in the 25th minute.
Sophomore goalkeeper Dani Greenlee subbed in for Warner at halftime. Although she made a save, she also allowed the only Cal goal of the night when Kayla Fong scored in the 84th minute.
English freshman Grace Neville has had a long road to reach the field this year. She was sick for a large portion of preseason camp and then hurt her foot in the exhibition match against Missouri. She had also recently been back in England spending time with the National Team.
But on Friday, she finally stepped on the field.
Although this was Neville’s first match, she said because of the time she spent with England’s National Team, she wasn’t rusty.
“It was such a high-intensity camp that it was really hard,” Neville said. “I felt a little bit tired last week ... but I’ve had a week to recover and come back, so I feel good.”
The Cowgirls will return to the field Sunday to take on San Francisco at Neal Patterson Stadium.
“We had a nice tempo,” Carmichael said. “I thought we passed the ball well and our effort was great. To watch our team play like that makes me very happy.”