Defender Summer Chaffin knew she made a smart decision as a little kid. She just didn’t know that choice would almost make her cry on a field in Norman years later.
Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma 2-0 on Thursday night in Norman at John Crain Field. Chaffin, a junior, was a key part of the victory.
Chaffin made her first career start and left the pristine, emerald-green field with another first-time achievement.
Coach Colin Carmichael’s soccer wisdom proved true.
In the 57th minute, with OSU leading 1-0, Chaffin received a pass directly in line with the OU goal, 18 yards away. She used two touches to beat a Sooner defender and open up a sliver of space to shoot the ball.
Chaffin fired a left-footed shot at, her attempt sneaking by the right post and the right arm of diving Sooner goalkeeper Nikki Panas. The ball reached the crimson net of the goal and sent a wave of emotion over Chaffin.
“I honestly almost started crying on the field,” Chaffin said. “The fact that I was on the field starting the game was really emotional for me already. But then to get my first career goal in a Bedlam game as well… I kind of blacked out in the moment.”
It was not a lucky break she caught the ball perfectly with her left foot. The sequence which only took a few seconds was years in the making.
“From a very young age I always made sure that I could use both feet and that it would always be one of my strengths,” Chaffin said. “I was comfortable with it on my left foot. I saw the opportunity and I ripped it.”
It is feasible to picture a scenario in which Chaffin is on the sideline in that moment. A former walk-on, her minutes have been sporadic at times, and dependent on other injuries.
“It shows her perseverance, it shows her work ethic,” coach Colin Carmichael said. “She is that kind of person. I can't say enough good things about Summer. She walked on here, she's earned a scholarship and now she’s playing nice minutes. It's a great story.”
Instead of being on the sideline, Chaffin sent her teammates watching from it into a frenzy.
“Oh my god,” senior forward Gabriella Coleman said. “I'm on the sideline and I'm just screaming, ‘Yes Summer. That goal was beautiful.’”
The shot doubled OSU’s lead, and took the energy out of a sizeable crowd.
“She solidified it for us,” Coleman said. “I'm so proud of her. The fact that it’s her first career goal, that's amazing.”
Seeing hard work — especially work which did not always lead to heaps of playing time — is something that resonated with the whole team.
“It’s definitely been a grind,” Chaffin said. “I'll say it myself. I'm not the most technical player so a lot of my game is just work hard.
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All nine of Chaffin’s teammates on her side of the field joined her in celebration. The Cowgirls jogged back to midfield in a convoy of celebration.
“After having two years of my role being more of an encourager, to finally get to be a little bit more of an on-field presence was really special,” Chaffin said. “Knowing that my teammates and my coach believe in me really meant a lot.”