A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous one.
The Oklahoma State soccer team is set to face No. 6 Penn State on Thursday at Jeffrey Field. This will be the first ranked team the Cowgirls face this season. Although OSU comes in as the underdog, coach Colin Carmichael said his team is extremely confident going into the game.
“We couldn’t be in a whole lot better place,” Carmichael said. “Our teams full of confidence and playing well. We understand the challenge ahead. It’s going to be a huge step up in the competition that we’ve faced up to this point but, from our perspective, we have nothing to lose.”
The game will not be easy for the Cowgirls. PSU has outscored its opponents 16-8 and have only lost to No.3 Stanford. Carmichael wants to make sure that his team does not focus too much on defense and too little on offense.
“It’s a trap that you fall in to,” Carmichael said. “As good as they are, we might end up defending for longer periods of time than what we are used to because that’s the nature of the game. We have to have the ability to hurt them, otherwise it becomes one-way traffic. For us to win a game against a top-10 team, we have to defend well, our goalkeeper has to make some plays and when we have our opportunities we have to make the most of them. That’s the outline for how to beat a top-10 team on the road.”
That being said, the Cowgirls have been in this position before. Last season, OSU beat Florida, who was No.4 at the time, in double overtime. Similarly, in 2007, the Cowgirls beat a Notre Dame team that was No. 9 and had not lost a home game since 2003. OSU Midfielder Grace Yochum said playing against top-10 teams are the most inspiring games to prepare for.
“I think it’s pretty cool to be the underdog,” Yochum said. “Obviously you want to win but to go into an environment like that and play a team like that is exciting. To get out of there with a win would be huge.”
Penn State has three Mac Hermann watch list players in its starting 11. Despite the amount of talent the Nittany Lions possess, the Cowgirls are focused more on what they can control as a unit.
“We’re just really focusing on ourselves right now, Huddleston said. “We’re not really focusing on them. We’re going to do what we can do. That’s all we’re focused on. I think our strengths are how well we work together. We pick each other up. We are very cohesive as a team and also don’t give up. I think our biggest attribute is we work so hard on and off the field.”