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Cowgirls revert to old ways to keep undefeated start alive

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Forward Gabriella Coleman during Bedlam Round one against the University of Oklahoma, at John Crain Field, in Norman OK, on August 29, 2019.

Through its first three games, the Oklahoma State soccer team is undefeated. As it looks to continue its streak, head coach Colin Carmichael has reverted to his old ways and will do so with some familiar returners.

The Cowgirls will face off against Central Arkansas (0-3-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saint Louis (2-2-0) on Sunday at 1 p.m at Neal Patterson Stadium.

After playing a 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 formation for the majority of last season and throughout the spring season, Carmichael decided to go with a 3-5-2 to start the season with Gabriella Coleman and Olyvia Dowell featuring as the main two up top.

Despite the Cowgirls (2-0-1) still being undefeated, Carmichael has decided to revert to what he knows best, the 3-4-2-1.

“It’s what benefits the team,” Carmichael said. “Looking at our personal in the summer going into preseason we thought ‘Let’s play with two upfront.’ It was good at times, but against Lamar and UTSA we saw two or three things out wide that we didn’t like. I think it put too much stress on our wingbacks and in turn, when we rolled our wingbacks higher it put too much stress on our back three.”

“We went back to our (3-4-2-1) against (Oklahoma) and it looked better, so we played the same way against (Oral Roberts),” Carmichael said. “I think we’ll continue with our one high, two underneath, but it’s kinda nice that if needed or if the game dictates we can play two high and our kids will be comfortable doing it.” 

Through their first three games, the Cowgirls have scored nine goals. Their only problem was that they scored six of those in the second half of games and eight of the nine after the first 30 minutes of play. 

OSU has struggled thus far getting off to strong starts, as well as having lulls throughout games offensively. 

For Claire Gantzer, this is one of the Cowgirls' main issues.

“I think it’s really important that we come out really strong and we finish really strong,” Gantzer said. “We’ve kind of struggled with maintaining our pace ninety minutes. We have moments where we slack off and those need to be less than the moments that we are on.”

One player who could help prevent these lulls is Rebekah George. George was a prolific scorer at Choctaw high school last year and could bring the same impact to the Cowgirls. 

“I think Rebekah is a very technical player,” Carmichael said. “She’s very smooth on the ball. She can keep it, she can pass it, she’ll receive it under pressure. So she’s got some great qualities. I think the challenge for Rebekah is the physicality and the speed of play. I think what she’s doing now is figuring out what she can do within the way the games played in college. She’s being more physical, she’s competing better defensively.”

Similar to many freshmen who were attackers in high school, George still has work to do on the defensive side in order to earn more minutes. 

“(Defending) is certainly a big thing for a lot of (freshman), especially those attacking kids,” Carmichael said. “A lot of times they aren’t asked to defend. A lot of times they are the best player on their team and the coach is saying ‘Get the ball, score goals and we will get people to do all the other stuff.' Clearly at this level, unless you are ridiculously special you are going to be asked to play both sides of the ball.” 

sports.ed@ocolly.com