One season ago, the Oklahoma State soccer team traveled west to face San Francisco and California. Before the matches, the Cowgirls had a 9-1-0 record.
After a grueling 110-minute game, the Cowgirls tied with USF at one, maintaining their undefeated streak. Two days later, OSU suffered its first defeat of the season, losing 3-0 to Cal.
OSU will compete at home against the Golden Bears on 7 p.m. Friday for its chance at redemption. The Cowgirls will meet USF at 1 p.m. Sunday at Neal Patterson Stadium.
Although OSU is ranked 21st in the nation according to a United Soccer Coaches poll, coach Colin Carmichael said he doesn’t want the Cowgirls to underestimate either upcoming opponent.
“Cal is one of the best teams in the Pac-12 every year,” Carmichael said. “San Francisco is 5-1, they’re probably a little bit surprising that they’ve done well, but they were a good team last year.”
Senior forward Haley Woodard has continued to lead the Cowgirls (4-1-0) into battle each match. Similar to Carmichael, she doesn’t underrate Cal or USF.
“We just know we didn’t have our best games against either of those teams,” Woodard said. “Being on our home field, I feel like it gives us an advantage.”
This season, Carmichael has put most of his trust in Woodard and senior Marlo Zoller to lead the attack.
After five games, Woodard and Zoller have each recorded two goals and an assist.
The past Sunday against Loyola Chicago, Woodard assisted Zoller on a goal after a cross 23 yards out.
“They’re good friends, and they’ve hung out for a long time, so I think they complement each other really well,” Carmichael said.
Woodard is averaging five shots per game, the most in the Big-12.
Through five games, Carmichael has continued to switch goalkeepers at half. Friday, redshirt freshman Hannah Warner will likely start in goal. Sunday, redshirt sophomore Dani Greenlee will likely play the first half.
Warner and Greenlee have combined for three shutouts and have a goal differential of plus seven.
Greenlee said working with Warner provides great competition, and they’ve become each other’s No. 1 supporter.
“We are both extremely supportive of each other because we’re completely different goalkeepers,” Greenlee said.
Warner and Greenlee have combined for 15 saves and have faced 51 shots. Opposing goalkeepers have had more work when playing against the Cowgirls. OSU has totaled 74 shots with 22 of the shots on goal saved.
In Warner’s first season for OSU, she has already made a name for herself. She ranks second in the Big 12 for save percentage, saving 91.7 percent of shots on goal.
After what Carmichael has seen from both goalkeepers, he said he will continue to swap them at halftime until he sees one goalie is doing better than the other.
Cal (3-2) and USF have enforcing forwards the Cowgirls will have to contain. Junior Abi Kim has been the Golden Bears’ star player this season. She has tallied three goals and an assist in four games.
For USF, redshirt junior Samantha Jehnings has been nearly unstoppable on the field. Jehnings has scored five goals with multiple-goal games against Drake and Montana.
If the Cowgirls want to have a better outcome than last season’s matches against Cal and USF (5-1), they’ll need to contain Kim and Jehnings.
“It’ll be two really tough opponents,” Carmichael said. “The good news is we’re at home and we feel really good about ourselves, so it should be pretty fun games.”