Junior midfielder Jaci Jones has been one of the Oklahoma State women’s soccer team’s most productive players on the field.
Jones’ ferocious play helped the Cowgirls defeat California 3-1 on Friday at Neal Patterson Stadium.
For most of the season, coach Colin Carmichael has pushed Jones to forward with Marlo Zoller and Haley Woodard.
“She’s great there,” Carmichael said. “She picks up the ball in little pockets of space, she runs in the back line of the other team and causes them a lot of trouble.”
Going into the match, the three of them accounted for half of No. 21 OSU’s goals.
In the match against Cal, Carmichael again started Jones at forward with Zoller and Woodard.
In the 19th minute, defender Kim Rodriguez set up for a corner kick on the right side of the field. OSU and Cal players crashed the box in hopes of getting the ball.
Amanda Zodikoff, the Golden Bears’ goalkeeper, punched the ball into the air, trying to get it out of the box.
The ball dropped to Jones, who quickly took a shot, but a nearby defender blocked her. On the ensuing rebound, Jones had to battle other defenders to get a clear shot. After getting the ball to herself, she knocked it to the rear post from 12 yards out, giving the Cowgirls (5-1-0) the lead.
“It just came back to me for the second time, (corner kicks are) always so hectic,” Jones said. “People are pulling each other, and every corner kick is that way.”
For the remainder of the match, Jones continued to compete as a two-way player. She pushed up the field to get the Cowgirls an opportunity to score and pushed back into the midfield to help her teammates.
In the 53rd minute, Jones helped the Cowgirls steal the ball from the Bears (3-3-0) in the midfield and quickly stormed up the field.
She passed the ball to Woodard and immediately darted up the field toward the goal. As Jones rushed into the box, Woodard dished the ball off to Jones for a clean shot.
Zodikoff dove and reached out, grasping the ball with her fingertips. She was inches away from scoring her second goal of the match and her third of the season.
A minute later, Carmichael subbed Camy Huddleston in for Jones. Carmichael gave Jones a rest for the remainder of the match.
“When it was three to nothing, at that point, I don’t really care if we score again,” Carmichael said. “I just want to get through healthy and get ready for Sunday.”
In the previous five matches, Jones compiled only five shots. In only 46 minutes of play, Jones added three shots to her stat sheet.
She also doubled her number of shots on goal with two in the match.
With the ability to play as a forward and midfielder, Jones can compete on both sides of the field.
Jones can put the ball past goalkeepers while she helps her teammates stop opposing players from pushing up the field.
“Defensively, we all work together as a unit,” Jones said. “ Whenever we did have (the ball), it was like, ‘Everyone, just go.’”