NORMAN -- Haley Woodard hasn’t caught a break.
A native of Norman, Woodard makes an annual trip to her hometown whenever the Oklahoma State soccer team heads south for the Bedlam road game.
As an OSU player, Woodard has visited John Crain Field four times for matches against Oklahoma. None of them were the experiences she wanted.
Injuries prevented her from seeing the field her freshman and junior years. Woodard started the game her sophomore year, but the Cowgirls lost after conceding the lone goal late in the match.
Woodard, a senior, played at Norman for the last time Sunday. She was healthy for her fourth visit, her final opportunity to shine against the hometown team she could have easily played for but chose not to.
And the fourth and final time, Lady Luck dealt the bad hand to Woodard. A determined Sooner team stole the game 2-1 in the 88th minute after a scrum inside OSU’s 18-yard box.
Woodard had a tiring afternoon. When she picked up a long pass from the back, Oklahoma sent two defenders to mark her. Often, she was forced wide and could only hold the ball as long as she could waiting for support.
After the first hour, Woodard had only seven touches inside the 18-yard box. OU and OSU played an even game in which they couldn’t create any clear-cut opportunities.
In a game like that, an individual spark of brilliance or a fluke often determines the outcome.
That moment finally arrived. Woodard picked up a pass from the left wing and worked her way past OU defender Paige Welch before sending a curler to the far post. It was her sixth goal of the season and her first in Norman.
OSU coach Colin Carmichael said Woodard’s goal was well-deserved.
“It was a great goal,” Carmichael said. “Haley came off after the game, and she was disappointed with (her) overall performance, but the goal was terrific. We talked in halftime about getting those moments in the final third. She gets that little composure, takes a breath and she did that.”
The script was set to go Woodard’s way, but it took a dramatic change of events. Only six minutes after Woodard’s opening goal, a deflected shot from Emily Parker found its way to goalkeeper Dani Greenlee’s net.
Then Kristina O’Donnell was the first to react to a loose ball for the winning goal, sending the Sooners’ crowd into a frenzy.
OSU scrambled to find the equalizer. In the final minute, Woodard again had the ball with three defenders covering her. She fought to try to cross the ball when it crossed the line. Woodard claimed it was a corner kick, but the referee said Woodard had the final touch.
The Cowgirls had two opportunities to clear the ball, but they couldn’t. Carmichael said those moments were representative of their frustrating afternoon.
“As a group, our effort and our mentality, you have to have that on the road,” Carmichael said. “Everybody in the Big 12 is good, and if you go to their field, and OU is a really good team with that great run recently. Their kids played hard and deserved to win today, to be honest. For us, it was something you learn, and you hope you go on the road and be better.”