During the past weekend, the Oklahoma State soccer team kicked off its season with a victory at the Cardinal Classic.
Here is a list of six players who could impact the direction of the Cowgirls' season.
Coleman, a junior transfer from Mississippi State, is a native of Keller, Texas. She brings a veteran presence to a Cowgirl front line that is almost entirely made up of freshman. Coleman is one of the most athletically gifted players in coach Colin Carmichael’s squad. Her combination of strength and speed gives the opposition defense constant problems.
“Gabriella (Coleman) is super athletic up front; she’s strong; she's powerful,” Carmichael said. “(She) needs to learn a little bit tactically and maybe what runs to make, but she is a handful and is gonna cause some problems for the other team's defense.
In OSU’s season opener, a 3-0 victory against Lamar, Coleman was responsible for five shots, tied for the team high. She also scored her first regular-season goal.
Dowell, a freshman from Longview, Texas, looks to be the most impactful of Carmichael’s freshman class. She recorded 56 goals and 22 assists during her high school career, earning district MVP honors her senior year. Dowell showed skills that Carmichael had been raving about prior to the season. In OSU’s season opener, she was involved in all three of her team’s goals, scoring one and assisting on the other two.
“Olyvia Dowell is special; she’s a really good player,” Carmichael said. “We knew that recruiting her. She’s young, she still has things to learn, but when she gets on the ball, she makes things happen. She’s got tricks, she’s got some spins, flicks, backheels and she can finish. She’s one to watch, I think the crowd are going to love. She’s a kid that gets you on the edge of your seat.”
With the loss of OSU’s top two scorers from last year, Haley Woodard and Marlo Zoller, Dowell could make the difference if OSU wants to challenge.
Rodriguez, a junior from Porter, Texas, was an All-Big 12 second-team defender in 2018. She is coming off her first stint with the Mexican national team in which she scored her first goal. Rodriguez will mainly play in the back three of Carmichael’s squad but will spend some time in midfield because of her passing ability. She will be key to the Cowgirls' scoring from set plays, whether they are free-kicks or corner-kicks. Rodriguez led OSU with four shots on goal against Lamar.
Jones, a senior from Mustang, is one of the most experienced Cowgirls. She captained OSU in its opening game against Lamar, recording a goal and an assist. Jones has totaled 12 goals and 13 assists during her career at OSU. With a new front line, Jones’ constant involvement in the attack should ease some of the pressure that will be out on Coleman and Dowell to score. Although she is skilled going forward, Jones also makes her presence known on the defensive end, recovering the ball with strong challenges across the field.
Morgan, a junior from Frisco, Texas, is coming off a torn ACL that forced her to miss the 2018 season. In OSU's first game, Morgan started as the right wingback, a position she looks to hold for the foreseeable future. Morgan brought a strong defensive presence on the right, working alongside central defender Elise Hawn. She also is becoming increasingly involved in the Cowgirls' final third play, tallying a shot against Lamar. With Carmichael switching to a 3-5-2 formation to start the season, OSU will rely on Morgan, along with left wingback Hannah Webb, to provide width in attack as well as defensive stability.
George, a freshman from Choctaw, comes to Stillwater holding the Oklahoma 6A record for goals with 39 in her senior season. She will bring creativity as well as a goal-scoring threat in the midfield and attack for Carmichael’s team. Similar to Dowell and Coleman, she can help make up for the losses of Woodard and Zoller.