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OSU Soccer: New role for Huddleston, starting GK still a question for Cowgirls after spring victory

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OSU midfielder Cami Huddleston runs into traffic during the Oklahoma State soccer match vs. Rogers State at Neal Patterson Stadium on March 2, 2019.

It's not often a team gets booked five times in an exhibition game.

The Oklahoma State women’s soccer team overcame the wind and physicality level to defeat SMU, 2-0, Saturday afternoon at Neal Patterson Stadium.

Grace Yochum and Jaci Jones scored late goals in each half as the Cowgirls stayed perfect during their spring exhibition season.

Though it was an exhibition match, neither team showed up with full force.

The wind condition hampered both teams’ build-up as they were forced to stay compact and play shorter passes, clogging up the midfield. Players on each side went after each other to try to gain advantage, causing the match to be interrupted a lot of times for foul calls.

Five SMU players were booked during the match for dangerous tackles and foul accumulation, an unusual number for an exhibition match. The Cowgirls took advantage of two Mustang fouls to find the net.

With just over 17 minutes left in the first half, Cami Huddleston drew a foul near the corner flag to give OSU a free kick. Kim Rodriguez played a smart low cross to allow Yochum to force the ball over the line. Jones sealed the victory from the spot kick in the 90th minute after an SMU defender fouled her.

OSU coach Colin Carmichael said this game was good preparation for when competitive season kicks off in the fall.

“It was a great spring game from our standpoint,” Carmichael said. “SMU played hard and played good soccer. They didn’t just kick the ball, they passed it so we had to defend properly. We wanted to win the game and played good soccer and we wanted to play good competition, so yes, it’s a good preparation for the fall.”

New role for Huddleston

Similar to the previous two seasons, Carmichael used the 3-4-3 formation throughout OSU's spring matches. However, there is a small tweak in the midfield.

Cami Huddleston, a sophomore midfielder, was instructed to play deeper as a deep-lying playmaker role. Instead of trying to run around the field linking up with other players, Huddleston remained the deepest in OSU's midfield against SMU.

As a result, she became the first person to receive a pass from the defense and while the team is attacking, the first person to intercept the loose ball to reset the attacking plays.

Carmichael said the new role suits better for Huddleston’s physical ability.

“She played really well today,” Carmichael said. “I think it suits her a little better. There is no 40-50 yard sprint. It is more five to 10 yard sprint, which Cami is good at. And just physicality, she played hard and won the balls for us, so I think she did really well today.”

Deadlock for starting goalkeeper spots

Along with injuries, a goalkeeper controversy was a main storyline for OSU last season.

Michela Ongaro’s departure after the conclusion of the 2017 season opened up a starting spot between the Cowgirls’ sticks. Redshirt freshman Hannah Warner and sophomore Dani Greenlees' positional battle came to a draw, forcing Carmichael to an unusual circumstance where he started each of them in one half.

Both Warner and Greenlee will return for fall season, and it seemed like neither was getting an outright advantage when they split their goalkeeping duty on Saturday afternoon.

SMU didn’t register a shot on target throughout the match, making it more difficult for Carmichael to assess their performances. Carmichael said rotating two goalkeepers in fall is a "good possibility.”

“Honestly, I don’t have a plan for it,” Carmichael said. “We just tell our kids to train and play as hard as they can. The way I try to look at it is, if they both play well and deserve minutes, it is hard to take it away from someone. If someone plays better than the other then we will make that switch, but it hasn’t happened, yet.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com