The Oklahoma State soccer team ran into a roadblock last weekend.
A draw against Texas and a loss at Oklahoma condemned No. 21 OSU to fourth in the standings, one game back from No. 16 West Virginia.
With the Mountaineers sitting firmly in pole position, OSU (10-2-1 overall, 2-1-1 Big 12) finds itself in a catch-up game. The first obstacle is a match against Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Friday at Neal Patterson Stadium.
The Cowgirls had a tough set of opening fixtures in conference play with three of the first four games on the road and a home game against then-No. 8 Texas. Colin Carmichael, the Cowgirls’ coach, said he isn’t pleased or disappointed with the relatively slow start.
“We have to keep in mind it is a long season,” Carmichael said. “... I think 2-1-1 wasn’t too disappointing, but maybe the way the Texas game ended, we can be a little better on that.”
OSU led in both games last weekend but conceded late goals as the chances of victory slipped away. Carmichael said he classifies the allowed goals as “sloppy” and is taking action to make sure the Cowgirls won’t repeat the mistakes.
“All three goals from OSU’s perspective were avoidable,” Carmichael said. “We watched videos, we broke it down to the kids and we showed them what we did and we could do better. What you hope as a coach that once the kids see that, and if they have the situation again, hopefully we will handle it better.”
Injuries are depleting Carmichael’s options in the midfield. The Cowgirls lost Charmé Morgan and Anna Lawler for the season, and Coumba Sow chose not to return to the squad.
Then two OSU midfielders, Jaci Jones and Julia Lenhardt, were also substituted out early in the Texas game because of head injury. Jones didn’t dress in uniform for the following Bedlam game, while Lenhardt, though she started, wasn’t in perfect condition, Carmichael said.
A weakened midfield was exposed in the Bedlam loss as the Cowgirls couldn’t control the possession to penetrate OU’s final third. Barring Haley Woodard’s solo goal, the Cowgirls couldn’t create many attacking opportunities. Carmichael said the players who stepped up to fill the hole have performed to expectations.
“We miss Charmé (Morgan) out wide,” Carmichael said. “Because Charmé has the ability to break down the other team because she has the ability to beat one-versus-one. We miss Coumba’s (Sow’s) cool head because she can read the game so well.
“This year’s team has done great. It’s college, and every year is different because of graduation and stuff. I think the kids that we have have done well. If you told us we would be 10-2-1 at the start of the season, I think most people would have said, ‘Well, that is a good year.”’
Texas Tech (9-3-1, 1-2-1) checks in at Stillwater with one of the top defenses in the nation. The Red Raiders have conceded only seven goals and recorded eight clean sheets this season, the most among Big 12 teams. Carmichael said he expects the visitor to pose a threat on both sides of the game.
“We are actually more worried about their offense,” Carmichael said. “They get some dynamic kids, and for whatever reason, they haven’t scored as many goals as they would have had. (I’ve) watched them on tape, and they’ve got some dangerous kids up top, so they are a good team.”
Last weekend’s result saw the Cowgirls falling behind early, but Carmichael said the Cowgirls need only one outcome in their favor to get back on track.
“If we want to win the league, obviously have a loss and a tie and you know, it is out of our hands at this point,” Carmichael said. “West Virginia still has Baylor and Texas at the weekend, so if they drop one there, it changes everything, and they still have a game with us. I think ourselves, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, we are all hoping West Virginia slips up and it will be an interesting end to the season.”