You are the owner of this article.

Cowgirls, defense march toward Illinois matchups

Bedlam Soccer 2018

Cowgirl defender Elise Hawn looks to clear the ball during the 2018 Bedlam soccer match. 

The Oklahoma State soccer team is fine with continuing the strategies that worked through the first three matches.

The Cowgirls approach a pair of weekend games on the road. OSU competes against Illinois at 7 p.m. Friday and faces Loyola Chicago at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Cowgirls are riding the high of beating Florida, ranked fourth in the Top Drawer Soccer poll, 1-0 in double overtime.

No. 13 OSU has impressed crowds in its first three games, which were victories to christen the new Neal Patterson Stadium with a winning atmosphere. Fans showed up in droves to watch the Cowgirls play, with more than 6,500 in combined attendance at the first three contests.

OSU held the Gators to only eight shots while peppering them with 15 chances during the match. In their three games, the Cowgirls have allowed only one goal.  Junior defender Elise Hawn said the defense has its demeanor to thank for playing with such a steely nerve so far.

“It’s just all about the mentality,” Hawn said. “We’re not the most talented team, but we work hard, and that’s what really counts in the end.”

Despite losing a pair of defenders, junior Charmé Morgan and freshman Anna Lawler, to injury early in the season, OSU’s defense has remained strong.

“The kids have stepped up,” coach Colin Carmichael said. “It stinks when a kid gets injured. … but at the same time, that’s an opportunity for other players to get more minutes and start and show what they can do.”

The victory against Florida called for celebration, but Carmichael said the Cowgirls know they need to keep focused to compete in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago.

“We enjoyed that win Sunday night and Monday, and then Tuesday it was, ‘OK, let’s talk about Illinois,’” Carmichael said. “As coaches, that’s our job, and also for the leaders on the team, you expect them to hopefully make sure the team’s focused on the next match.”

The games against Illinois and Loyola Chicago are OSU’s first true road matches of the year. Last season, the Cowgirls went 6-3-2 as the visiting team. Hawn said if OSU continues to do what it has done so far in 2018, it will keep up the success.

“We’re going to do the same thing, we’re going to keep bringing it, keep working hard,” Hawn said. “We can’t change. We have to keep doing what we’re doing. We can’t play down, we can’t get discouraged because we don’t have our fanbase (there) … so we just have to keep delivering, simple as that.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com