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A healthy portion of winning: Cowgirls return starters, net 3 goals against Omaha

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Hannah Webb

After both teams had settled into the second half, Olyvia Dowell got an opportunity to double to Oklahoma State lead.

Dowell, a junior forward, popped an incoming cross up neatly using her right foot and let the ball bounce once.

Only a few yards separated Dowell from Omaha's goalkeeper, and she fired a shot that quickly closed the distance. The ball found the back of the net and Dowell recorded her first goal of the season.

Oklahoma State beat Omaha 3-0 on Friday night in Stillwater at Neal Patterson Stadium. The margin of victory, the Cowgirl’s largest of the season, was aided by Dowell’s goal in the 57th minute.

Dowell, a leading Cowgirl scorer a year ago, is no stranger to netting a goal. What was unfamiliar though, in OSU’s injury-riddled start to the season, was who Dowell scored with.

Senior defender Kim Rodriguez and senior midfielder Grace Yochum, two players critical to OSU’s success, have also missed time or played at less than 100% due to injuries.

Dowell, Yochum, OSU’s leading scorer, and Rodriguez, an All-American, all played over 60 minutes.

“Before today we’d only played 30 minutes with Liv, Kim and Yochs on the field together,” coach Colin Carmichael said. “In seven games, that’s probably not how you draw it up.”

Carmichael said having those three players on the field improves the Cowgirl’s composure and helps them keep possession of the ball.

“We need to build that chemistry and the only way you’re going to do that is having those players on the field and getting that experience with each other,” Dowell said.

Yochum scored a few minutes before halftime, and freshman midfielder Samiah Phiri cashed in late on a long range shot in the 82nd minute.

Rodriguez, Dowell and Yochum made impactful plays throughout the night, serving up dangerous crosses and free kicks to trigger scoring threats.

“It’s been hard not being able to play together,” Yochum said. “It’s so fun playing with them. They’re so creative, they’re so smart.”

Dowell said she and Rodriguez are still working back into top shape, and Yochum estimated she feels about 90% healthy after enduring a knee-to-knee collision which required treatment on Sunday.

“They’re still not 100%, but they’re getting there,” Carmichael said. “What a difference it makes to our play. I’m really happy for them that they’re playing and healthy. We just need to keep building them up.”

The Cowgirls (4-3-1) have one game remaining before conference play starts. OSU will battle some of the best teams in the country like TCU and West Virginia in its future.

Carmichael places high importance on having Yochum, Dowell and Rodriguez healthy for the rest of the seaosn.

“It’s crucial,” Carmichael said. “That three is as good as most teams top three in the country. You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better group of three across the country.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com