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Cowgirls come up short against TCU in likely last match of season

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OSU defender Hannah Webb presses TCU defender Callyn Loughrey during the first half. 

It was a do-or-die game for the Oklahoma State soccer team.

But in the end, the Cowgirls came up just short.

OSU was unable to withstand a late offensive push from TCU, losing 3-2 to the Horned Frogs on Friday night at Neal Patterson Stadium in the Cowgirls’ last regular-season match of the year.

OSU (10-7-1 overall, 2-6-1 Big 12) and TCU went back and forth in a high-scoring second half, but the visitors dealt the final blow.

In the 83rd minute, goalkeeper Hannah Warner made a save, diving to the ground, but was unable to control the ball into her body. It bounced off her hands and into the lap of Messiah Bright, who easily knocked it into the goal, giving TCU its third goal of the second half.

“(TCU) is a good team,” Colin Carmichael, OSU’s coach, said. “You got to give them a ton of credit, but we can defend better. We know we could."

But unlike many matches throughout the Cowgirls’ six-game losing streak, they were ahead early. It wasn’t long into the game when OSU captured its first lead in almost two weeks.

In the seventh minute, Julia Lenhardt found some space on the end line and sneaked a ball into the box between two defenders.

Grace Yochum sprinted forward, beating a couple defenders to the ball. She slid and made good enough contact to put it into the left side of the goal past TCU’s diving keeper.

In signature Yochum fashion, she couldn’t control her excitement, leaping high into an almost Air Jordan-esque pose and pumping her fist as she reached the apex of her jump.

“I’m thinking, ‘I gotta get there first,’” Yochum said. “(The coaches) talked about, ‘You gotta want it.’ I got there, and I just stuck my leg out, and it went in.”

TCU (12-4-2, 5-3-1) came out in the second half and quickly tied the game. A shot hit OSU’s crossbar and fell to the ground, bouncing on the goal line for a moment before Kayla Hill knocked it in for the equalizer.

The Horned Frogs weren’t done there.

Tayla Christensen received a pass and put a nifty spin move on OSU defender Kim Rodriguez before firing the ball into the goal to put TCU up 2-1.

But OSU soon retaliated with senior Rachel VanFossen scoring off an assist into the box from Rodriguez, tying the game at two in the 77th minute.

“I didn’t want the season to end,” VanFossen said. “So I was like, ‘I’m going to go out and score a goal.’ And I did. At least I got to go out with a bang.”

The game appeared to be headed for extras. Then Bright put in the game winner for TCU.

For the final seven minutes, the Cowgirls kept battling but were unable to find the net.

“We’re resilient,” Yochum said. “We don’t give up. We went out with a fight, and I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

In possibly her final home game, senior Haley Woodard didn’t start, but she did return to the field after missing the past two games. Sophomore Hannah Webb, who was injured in the same match as Woodard, also returned to action.

The Cowgirls’ loss knocks them to ninth place in the conference and out of the Big 12 Tournament. Despite six consecutive losses to end the year, OSU’s strong start leaves it with a slim chance to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.

But it’s likely the loss will put an end to the Cowgirls’ season.

“It’s been a bizarre season,” Carmichael said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. But our kids never quit. They never stopped fighting.

“But to end like this when things were going so well earlier just makes it tough. But they’re resilient. They’ll bounce back.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com