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Retirement can wait: OSU seniors prepare for the spring

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OSU defender Hannah Webb being recognized during the senior ceremony following the Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech soccer match on Friday, October 30, 2020 at Neal Patterson Stadium in Stillwater.

Normally, Hannah Webb wouldn’t really be practicing right now. In fact, for seniors such as her, the spring semester usually entails sitting back and cruising into retirement.

This semester, though, is not normal.

“At the start of this year, I thought my soccer career was ending in December following the NCAA tournament,” said Webb, a senior defender. “But as we all know, this year was not what we expected. I got to play in the fall, and I get to play in the spring. It’s kind of crazy to see my senior year has been extended.”

Because of COVID, there was no NCAA tournament in the fall soccer season. The spring season has become a tantalizing chance for the Cowgirls to participate in the postseason.

“That’s what we are here for, to play those awesome games and have something worth competing for,” Webb said.

Spring soccer matches are, in a normal year, low intensity.

“It’s called our non-traditional segment,” coach Colin Carmichael said. “They don’t count towards any postseason qualification…it’s really just practice games to get your team ready for next fall.”

Instead of the repertoire of meaningless games when teams are focused more on developing their players and gaining command of formations than winning matches, the 2021 spring semester for the Cowgirls will be filled with games of critical importance.

Starting Feb. 28, OSU will play seven regular season games. Since the Cowgirls did not win the Big 12 in the fall, a spot in the NCAA tournament is not a certainty. Instead of the traditional 64 teams getting to participate, only 48 will make the 2021 pandemic-friendly version.

For OSU, that is motivation to excel in the spring.

“It’s really changed our preparation, mentality, the way we train because we really have to hit the ground running,” Carmichael said. “These games are not exhibition games; we don’t get to experiment.

The schedule is no cakewalk. The Cowgirls will welcome Notre Dame and Oklahoma to Stillwater and will travel to the DFW area twice for matches against North Texas and the Big 12 champions, TCU.

That game against the Horned Frogs will provide OSU with an opportunity to avenge a loss from the fall and make a statement to the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

“Seeing TCU on the schedule was one of the most exciting ones for me because they beat us during the fall,” Webb said. “So seeing that, I personally wanted another crack at them.”

“It’s also a huge game because TCU is in the NCAA tournament,” Carmichael said. “If we can go to their home field and get a really good result against those guys, then it would up our standing.”

Although she and her fellow seniors won’t be able to enjoy the traditional victory lap that the spring semester has been for others, Webb would not have it any other way.

“I’m excited that we have this opportunity, and I really hope we make the best of it,” Webb said.

sports.ed@ocolly.com