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Gang of seven: Incoming freshmen catch coaches, players attention

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Xcaret Pineda Kicking

A new campaign has begun for OSU women’s soccer team, and following the exit of key players like Gabriella Coleman and Charmé Morgan, a wealth of incoming talent from the freshman class has earned high praise both on the pitch and in training.

“I'm honestly excited about all of them,” said Alex Morris, a wingback entering her junior season with OSU. “I think it's one of the strongest freshman groups I've ever seen. Every single one of them shows up and works every single day.”

Of the seven freshmen making up the recruiting class of 2022, four were ranked in the top 100 recruits for their position per Top Drawer Soccer, with freshman goalkeeper Jordan Nytes ranked as high as 15th nationally. Xcaret Pineda, a midfielder who won the ECNL National Championship in 2021 with her club Eclipse Select, ranked 5th in the Midwest region and 30th nationally.

Further highlighting the level of performance the class brings to the dressing room, Nytes, along with fellow newcomers Sami Allen (Forward) and Gracie Bindbeutel (Forward/Midfield) were additionally selected as Gatorade Players of the Year. The award is given to the top performer in each high school sport both on and off the field.

“Sometimes in a class, you've got two or three that hit the ground running, and two or three that maybe need a couple of years to develop physically or mature a bit," OSU coach Colin Carmichael said. “Every single one of these kids has done well.”

In that exhibition, three freshmen made their first career starts to face the Bronchos. Bindbeutel and Pineda played alongside star forward Grace Yochum in the attacking unit, and Nytes began the match in goal.

The result? The young forwards had strong career debuts, with Bindbeutel recording four shots and Pineda recording two. Both players nabbed one shot on goal apiece. Nytes managed four saves in the first half before subbing out, contributing to a 3-0 shutout to unofficially open the Cowgirls’ season.

“With young players, the potential is there to be very inconsistent," Carmichael said. "But if they start clicking, and the older players play the way they can play, the ceiling for this group is really high. It's just a matter of how quickly we can get there.”

As the Cowgirls head to Omaha before their home opener on Aug. 21st, spirits are high among staff and players alike for what the season, newcomers and all, can bring. 

“I think this is the best freshman group we've had," said Mollie Breiner. "They all compete. They all try. They're all positive. It's just a really good group.”