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Cowgirls aim to keep up momentum in road tests against Creighton, UMKC

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)

Riding a three-game winning streak, the Oklahoma State soccer team looks to carry its momentum into the weekend.

No. 20 OSU will hit the road for a pair of matches against Creighton at 7 p.m. on Friday and UMKC at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The Cowgirls (6-1-0) hope to get off to a better start than they did on their first road trip of the year, which they opened with a loss to Illinois.

With one road trip under her belt, freshman Grace Yochum said she expects to feel more comfortable in upcoming away games.

“Road trips are no joke,” Yochum said. “As a freshman, I learned that the hard way, so going into this weekend I think we’re going to be a lot more prepared.”

The upcoming games present a unique challenge for the Cowgirls, as Creighton and UMKC have turf fields at their venues, unlike the grass at Neal Patterson Stadium.

Although playing on turf can seem insignificant, junior Jaci Jones said the playing surface makes a noticeable difference.

“The field definitely has a huge impact,” Jones said. “When we went to Illinois, granted, we didn’t play our best game, but the grass was really thick, and that made it hard to play the way we wanted to play.

“So going on turf, the ball rolls a little faster, some turfs are really bouncy. Every turf is different.”

Jones added that the team’s practice before the game will be beneficial to get a feel for how the turf plays.

Earlier this season, coach Colin Carmichael talked about shortening the bench as the season goes along. He said it's getting closer to the point in the season when his rotations will become solidified, barring injury.

This weekend, the Cowgirls will likely be without starting defender Elise Hawn, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury that forced her to miss the San Francisco match.

Carmichael was pleased with the way senior Rachel VanFossen played in place of Hawn in the starting lineup. Freshmen Grace Neville and Elena Brynjarsdottir will also likely receive more opportunities.

“We feel like we have some pretty good depth this year,” Carmichael said. “The bench was great on Sunday. I thought they came in and made the standard of play better, which is what you hope for.”

OSU’s depth has been tested defensively with Hawn out, and the Cowgirls have also shown up offensively. In matches against California and USF during the past weekend, four Cowgirls scored goals.

Jones said OSU's offensive versatility makes it tough for other teams to defend it.

“That’s really hard whenever you’re defending a team to have to think about all those different people that are getting goals,” Jones said.

OSU still has areas to improve before conference play begins in a couple weeks. Jones said in practice this week, they Cowgirls have been working on playing through pressure and not forcing passes.

“(They’re) two tough opponents,” Carmichael said. “We don’t take anything for granted. We’ll obviously be favored in both games, but that doesn’t mean anything once you kick off.”