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OSU's offense struggles, handball give KU the upper hand

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Cowgirl Soccer vs. TCU-22.jpg

OSU freshman midfielder Grace Dennis looks on during the Cowgirl soccer game against TCU on Friday, October 9, 2020, at Neal Patterson Stadium in Stillwater.

In Oklahoma State’s Big 12 conference match against Kansas, the Jayhawks were — in one sense quite literally — handed a win.

OSU was defeated 1-0 by Kansas on Friday night in Lawrence. The match was quite a contrast from the 2019 match between the Cowgirls and Jayhawks, which featured seven goals.

The clench of stifling defense in the showdown between No. 10 Kansas and No. 8 OSU was only pierced once, by a play in the 41st minute.

After junior KU defender Grace Wiltgen found some space in the crowded OSU box, she played a shot on goal.

Senior OSU defender Kim Rodriguez did well to block the crisp shot, but in her jumping effort to deflect the ball, it clipped her outstretched arm. Rodriguez was whistled for a handball, and since the play was in the box, the Jayhawks were awarded a penalty kick.

Senior KU midfielder Ceri Holland took the penalty and found the back of the net, making the score 1-0. The preseason All-Big 12 selection moved to 4-5 in her career on PK’s. Her well-placed shot to the right of Emily Plotz’s dive would be the only score of the night.

Quality scoring chances were minimal for both sides. Especially in the first half, the Cowgirls did not create good looks at the goal.

“In the first half, we just didn’t look like ourselves,” Carmichael said. “Sometimes you don’t have a great half of soccer or you don’t play well, but our effort was unacceptable.”

Although OSU’s offense could not find traction, KU’s offense was forced to grind out minutes as well. The Cowgirl defense allowed only one shot on goal all night. Aside from the penalty kick that OSU surrendered, the defense was successfully able to bottle up every Jayhawk attack.

Carmichael said he was not surprised at the defensive focus of this match. Kansas had surrendered just two goals in four games going into the match.

The closest that the Cowgirls came to an equalizer was a rocket off the foot of Kim Rodriguez.

The senior defender went on the offensive in the second minute of the second half. Rodriguez dribbled the ball down the left side of the field and created space 20 yards out from the goal. The senior sizzled a shot that hung in the air before caroming off the crossbar.

Senior defender Charmé Morgan controlled the deflection but could not settle the ball and her follow up shot went over the goal.

As the clock ticked down, the Kansas’ defensive friendly formation became an issue for OSU.

“(Kansas) has a back five that aren’t super adventurous going forward and they keep good numbers behind the ball,” coach Collin Carmichael said. “It makes them difficult to break down.”

Though the defense was suffocating on both sides, the Cowgirls came up with a last gasp in the 71st minute. OSU earned three corner kicks in a two-minute span but could not convert any chances into goals.

As the clock ticked down to zero on a chilly night in Lawrence, a Cowgirl shutout was solidified.

Like the crisp fall air in which the match was played, the Cowgirl offense was cold. OSU has now scored one combined goal in its last three matches.