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Highlights from the 2011 Oklahoma State Cowgirl Soccer season, where OSU won its fifth Big 12 Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second straight year.
If you are looking for a blueprint of how to build a collegiate soccer program into a national contender, Oklahoma State head coach Colin Carmichael would be a good place to start.
Carmichael has been at OSU since the inception of the women's soccer program in the fall of 1996, and he continues to help lead Cowgirl soccer to new heights and a spot among the nation's elite.
OSU is in the midst of the most successful stretch of seasons in program history, and as the program enters its 17th season, the Cowgirls are looking to build on the greatest season in its history in Carmichael's eightth year at the helm.
Carmichael, who served as OSU's co-head coach with Karen Hancock during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, is 116-29-19 during his seven-year tenure as the Cowgirls' head coach, compiling a winning percentage of .765. He has led the Cowgirls to six consecutive appearances in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship (2006-11), and after advancing to the second round four-straight years, the Cowgirls made back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2011.
The Cowgirls have also been a dominant force in the Big 12 Conference under Carmichael as they are the four-time defending league champion. OSU won the regular season title in 2008, captured the Big 12 Soccer Championship title in 2009 and 2010 and claimed another regular season championship in 2011.
The 2011 campaign ranks as the best in program history as OSU won a school record 22 games, highlighted by a record 21-game unbeaten streak. During that span, the Cowgirls were 19-0-2 and had a stretch in which they notched 15 consecutive wins.
The run to the Big 12 championship saw OSU finish 6-0-2 in league play. After falling in the title game of the conference tourney, the Cowgirls reeled off three-straight wins in the NCAA Championship before falling to top-ranked and eventual national champion Stanford.
Carmichael earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in 2011, and the Cowgirls saw a program-record seven players earn All-Big 12 status, including Melinda Mercado being named the league's Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year.
Mercado was part of a senior class that went 75-14-10 (.808) during their careers, placing them as the fourth-winningest senior class in the NCAA in 2011, and she was also one of two Cowgirls to earn All-American honors, along with AD Franch.
The year culminated with OSU finishing fifth in the final national rankings for the second-straight year.
The 2010 season saw OSU set a school record for wins as they finished 20-4-2, which also earned the Cowgirls their highest-ever final ranking in the national polls at No. 5 in the NSCAA poll.
In a year that saw OSU tie a school record with a 13-game unbeaten streak and lead the Big 12 in goals and goals against average, Carmichael was named the 2010 Big 12 Conference Co-Coach of the Year and the NSCAA/Mondo Central Region Coach of the Year.
OSU led the Big 12 with five all-conference performers in 2010, including four first teamers, and a pair of Cowgirls -- AD Franch and Melinda Mercado -- earned All-America status.
In 2009, the Cowgirls peaked at just the right time. Carmichael's squad ended the season on a 10-game unbeaten streak, with eight wins and two ties. During that stretch, OSU claimed the second Big 12 Soccer Championship title in school history and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
After ending the regular season with five-straight wins, OSU entered the '09 Big 12 tourney as the fifth seed. The Cowgirls proceeded to knock off Nebraska, top-seeded Missouri and second-seeded Texas A&M en route to the title. OSU had lost to each of those teams during the regular season.
In the opening round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship, OSU battled USC to a scoreless draw but advanced by winning a penalty-kick shootout for the first time in school history. The Cowgirls were also forced into a shootout against 11th-ranked Santa Clara but failed to advance, ending their season with a 15-7-2 record.
OSU led the Big 12 in 2009 with three All-Big 12 First Team selections, including record-setting goalkeeper AD Franch, who was also named a Freshman All-American.
The 2008 season was record setting on a number of levels. The Cowgirls finished 18-1-4, setting a school record for wins, and claimed the program's first-ever Big 12 Conference regular season championship.
The Cowgirls finished 13th in the final national polls after being ranked as high as No. 7 during the regular season. OSU's .870 winning percentage ranked sixth in the country.
OSU's offensive attack was among the nation's best as the Cowgirls led the NCAA in scoring offense at 3.22 goals per game and finished third nationally with 74 goals. The Cowgirls set single-season school records for goals and points.
Carmichael was named the 2008 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year and also claimed 2008 Central Regional Coach of the Year honors. A program record six Cowgirls were honored with Big 12 postseason awards, including first-team all-conference performers Kasey Langdon and Yolanda Odenyo, who was also named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
In 2007, OSU finished the season with a 14-6-3 record, the 14 wins marking the third-highest total in program history. Along the way, OSU defeated four teams ranked in the Top 10, including a win over No. 9 San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and a landmark win against Notre Dame in which the Cowgirls snapped the Fighting Irish's 43-game home unbeaten streak.
Further signs of just how far the program continues to climb are evidenced by the fact that OSU started and finished the season in the national rankings for the first time in school history. The Cowgirls ended the season ranked No. 17 by Soccer Buzz Magazine and 23rd in both the NSCAA/adidas and SoccerTimes.com polls.
OSU also set a program home attendance record with 10,222 fans, an average of 929 fans per game at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.
Carmichael served as an assistant coach at OSU until he was elevated to associate head coach in 2003 and co-head coach in 2005. In the four seasons following his promotion, the Cowgirls compiled a 54-20-11 record, captured a Big 12 Tournament title, finished second in the Big 12 regular season standings and made the first two trips to the NCAA Tournament in school history.
In 2006, Carmichael helped lead the Cowgirls to their best finish in school history as they went 17-3-3 and finished second in the Big 12 with an 8-1-1 conference mark. OSU earned its highest-ever national ranking as they climbed to as high as No. 7 in the NSCAA polls, and the squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament and defeated UNC-Greensboro for the school's first-ever tournament win.
Carmichael and Hancock were rewarded for their outstanding 2006 campaign by earning the Central Region Coach of the Year award. Soccer Buzz named the coaching tandem runner-up for National Coach of the Year behind North Carolina's Anson Dorrance.
One of the biggest reasons for the program's recent success is the influx of talent that has come to Stillwater as a result of Carmichael's excellent recruiting skills. The Cowgirls continue to bring in some of the top-ranked classes in the Central Region, and in 2005, OSU had the 11th-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Carmichael's knack for recruiting overseas has been at the forefront of most of those outstanding classes. In 2005, he landed the second-rated international recruit in German native Angelika Feldbacher, and in 2006, top-rated international recruit, Annika Niemeier, signed to play in Stillwater. Carmichael, a native of Airde, Scotland, also helped bring in Swedish native Yolanda Odenyo, who became the first OSU player to earn first-team All-American honors in 2006.
Carmichael also worked on the coaching staff of the Region III Olympic Development team for 15 years. The ODP has seen numerous players go on to play soccer at the collegiate level as well as with the U.S. National Team.
In the spring of 2001, Carmichael was recognized as the U.S. Soccer Association's Region III Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the National Coach of the Year honor.
In 1991, while Carmichael was still an active player at USA, he began his coaching career at St. Paul's Episcopal High School in Mobile, Ala. After his graduation in 1993, he was hired on as an assistant coach at USA, where he assisted with the men's program and also helped to establish the women's program.
While at USA, Carmichael earned a marketing degree, and he received his Master's in physical education in 1996. He currently holds a U.S. Soccer Federation "A" License and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America "Premier" License.
Carmichael resides in Stillwater with his wife, Stacie, and her daughter, Alicia. The couple's first child, Maggie, was born in 2007, and they welcomed a son, Ean, in 2010.