Cowgirl Soccer Tradition
It took less than two decades after the program's inception for the Oklahoma State Cowgirl Soccer team to win five Big 12 Conference Championships, make six NCAA appearances, host an NCAA Tournament, and establish itself as one of the nation's top college soccer programs with an Elite Eight run in 2010. It's already good to be a Cowgirl, but it's only going to get better for a program riding a surge of momentum.
Elite Eight: Cowgirls 0, Duke 2

Oklahoma State's record-setting season came to an end in the Elite Eight Friday night as the No. 6 Cowgirls dropped a 2-0 contest to No. 7 Notre Dame in front of a record crowd at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.

Oklahoma State, a No. 3 national seed, ended its season with a 20-4-2 mark, while No. 4 national seed Notre Dame (19-2-2) got a pair of second-half goals from Elizabeth Tucker to propel the Fighting Irish into the NCAA Women's College Cup for the 12th time in school history.

"The better team won tonight," said OSU head coach Colin Carmichael. "Notre Dame is a great team with great individual players, very well coached. You could tell they've been there, done that. They walked on the field with a lot of confidence in themselves and maybe we were a little bit timid early.

"Our kids came back in the second half and did a better job, fought very, very hard as we did all year. We just weren't able to break down a really good team."

A crowd of 2,660 fans saw OSU lose for the first time in 13 games on its home field this season. The overflow crowd passed the 2003 Bedlam crowd of 2,307 as the largest in program history.

"It's amazing the support we've gotten at these games," OSU junior defender Melinda Mercado said. "Usually we get a pretty good fan base, but just the support that Stillwater has given us these last few games has really made a difference."

It wouldn't be enough on Friday, however, as OSU's bid for its first-ever trip to the Women's College Cup came up just short.

Notre Dame controlled the offensive attack in the opening half, outshooting the Cowgirls by a 10-1 margin. But a pair of saves by OSU goalie AD Franch kept the Irish off the scoreboard before intermission.

"I was happy with the way we defended Notre Dame," Carmichael said. "In the first half, they had quite a lot of the ball without really having too many chances at goal. My regret at halftime was I felt we didn't cause them enough trouble from an attacking standpoint. In the second half, we did a little better. We created some chances. But we knew it was going to be very difficult. Their front three is as good as anybody in the country, and we knew it was going to be hard to contain them."

The Irish came out strong again in the second half, getting a pair of close-range headers in the 48th minute that the OSU defense was able to stop.

After a slow first half, OSU got a solid scoring opportunity in the 51st minute, but a shot by Krista Lopez was blocked by a Notre Dame defender.

The Irish finally broke the scoreless tie in the 63rd minute. Lauran Fowlkes sent a cross from the near side into the box where Tucker was there to send it to the back of the net to give UND a 1-0 advantage.

OSU's offense would create several scoring opportunities down the stretch, one of the best of which came in the 73rd minute on a shot by Katie Richardson that was blocked by a UND defender.

However, the Cowgirls could not find the back of the net, and Tucker put the game away on a goal with just 20 seconds remaining in the match.

"For us to win tonight, we would have had to have a special performance," Carmichael said. "I thought we played well, but probably just not quite well enough to cause them enough problems."
 

Cowgirl Soccer Tradition
Conference Championships
2010 Elite Eight
NCAA Appearances
 
The largest crowd in the history of the Cowgirl Soccer Complex watched Oklahoma State take on Notre Dame in the Elite Eight. Official attendance was 2,660, but even more fans crowded outside the stadium's fences to watch the Cowgirls.
 
"We told our seniors they've raised the bar once again. That's three Big 12 championships in a row, an Elite Eight appearance. We want to do it again. It was a fun ride, and I know these guys are anxious to do it again next year. We'll learn from this. Certainly Notre Dame is the type of program we aspire to become. Every year they seem to be competing for a final four berth, and that's what we'd like to do. We'll learn from this game, and next year these guys will be itching to get back at it."

-Head Coach Colin Carmichael

Sweet 16: Duke 0, Cowgirls 2
Oklahoma State's record-setting season continued Friday night as the No. 6 Cowgirls advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship with a 2-0 win over Duke in front of 1,943 fans at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.

Making its first-ever Sweet 16 appearance, the Cowgirls were in control throughout as they improved to 20-3-2 on the season and advanced to next week's NCAA quarterfinals, where they'll face the North Carolina-Notre Dame winner. Those two teams square off Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Megan Marchesano and Krista Lopez each recorded goals against the Blue Devils (11-8-4), while AD Franch notched her ninth shutout of the season as OSU extended its unbeaten streak to seven and improved to 12-0-0 on its home field this season.

"It's a season of firsts for us," said OSU head coach Colin Carmichael. "Being in the Sweet 16 was great, but we didn't want to be finished yet. Duke is a nationally known program that has been in the Sweet 16 three of the last four years, and if you go back further in their history, they're one of the elite programs in the country. For us to beat them is a great achievement for our team and our program."

OSU had several scoring chances early as Kyndall Treadwell hit the crossbar with a shot just over five minutes in, and Lopez fired one that sailed just over the bar in the 26th minute.

In the 37th minute, the Cowgirls would convert one of those chances when Marchesano collected a pass from Lopez, took a couple of touches and blasted a shot from 15-yards out to the upper post that Duke goalie Tara Campbell had no chance of saving.

"Krista played me a perfect ball right where I needed it, and I saw which way (the goalie) was going so I just knocked it the other way," Marchesano said.

With the goal, OSU snapped a four-match streak of falling behind by a 1-0 margin.

"We talked about that; we certainly didn't want to go behind against such a good team because we knew that would make things a lot more difficult," Carmichael said. "The emphasis was to really focus in the first half and not go behind."

OSU would double its lead in the 62nd minute when Lopez took a perfect cross from Kristen Kelley and delivered her 15th goal of the season. That total is tied for the second highest in a single season in school history and is just one shy of Yolanda Odenyo's record of 16 in 2008.

With a comfortable 2-0 lead, it was Franch and the OSU defense withstanding a furious Duke attack down the stretch.

Franch made just two saves on the night but was highly disruptive to the Blue Devils' attack as she recorded her 20th career shutout, just one shy of OSU's all-time record.
 

Megan Marchesano scored from 15 yards out to give the Cowgirls a 1-0 lead over Duke. OSU never looked back, and went on to shut out the Blue Devils 2-0 en route to their first Elite Eight appearance.
 
"Being in the Sweet 16 was great, but we didn't want to be finished yet. Duke is a nationally known program that has been in the Sweet 16 three of the last four years, and if you go back further in their history, they're one of the elite programs in the country. For us to beat them is a great achievement for our team and our program."

-Head Coach Colin Carmichael

Second Round: Oregon State 1, Cowgirls 2

Oklahoma State won in come-from-behind fashion once again Sunday as the No. 6 Cowgirls earned their first-ever berth in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship Sweet 16 with a 2-1 win over Oregon State in front of over 1,400 fans at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.

With the win, the Cowgirls improved to 19-3-2 on the season and set a school record for single-season wins. Oklahoma State also snapped a four-year streak of having its season end in the second round of the NCAA tourney.

With the win, Oklahoma State, a No. 3 national seed, advances to the round of 16 and will host Duke in Stillwater Friday at 7 p.m. The Blue Devils won a penalty kick shootout over No. 2 national seed Florida on Sunday.

"It means so much for this program," OSU head coach Colin Carmichael said of advancing to the Sweet 16. "We've been so close in the past. We've kind of complained about not being at home and losing so many close games on the road. You can see how hard it was for (Oregon State) to hold the lead. We were just so thankful we got to play in front of our fans. I truly believe that did make a little bit of difference. It maybe gives you that little 10 percent extra that you need. Hopefully, we'll carry that to next week.

"We're excited to be in the Sweet 16. It's a program first, and 19 wins is the most in school history. These kids deserve all the credit. They're never down-and-out. You can never count them out, even when they go behind. It's a real pleasure to work with them everyday."

Oklahoma State needed a pair of second-half goals to get a victory Sunday.

The Beavers (16-4-1) netted a goal with just five seconds remaining in the opening half when Chelsea Buckland blasted a shot from 30-yards out with her left foot that sailed passed a leaping AD Franch and into the far upper post.

"That's how we planned it (laughter)," said Carmichael, whose squad has faced one-goal deficits in each of its last four matches. "We talked about starting the game well, and in fairness, I thought we did start very, very well. We just switched up for a split second just before the half. If they hadn't gotten that goal right before the end of the half, I'd have been very pleased with the first-half performance."

Oklahoma State trailed for the first 28 minutes of the final half, but with 73:19 remaining, the Cowgirls would finally get the equalizer.

Sarah Brown made a deep throw in from the far sideline that Katie Richardson headed to her right, where the ball found Elizabeth DeLozier. And DeLozier delivered from seven-yards out, booting the ball past Oregon State goalie Colleen Boyd for her second goal of the season.

"I give all the credit to Sarah Brown," DeLozier said. "She made an amazing throw, and I just got on the end of it and got us a goal. It was a team effort for sure."

The Cowgirls would record the game winner in the 82nd minute. After Krista Lopez drilled a shot that Boyd saved but was unable to grab, Carson Michalowski was there for the putback to put Oklahoma State on top, 2-1.

Oklahoma State's victory was not secured until Franch made a pair of diving saves in the last 3:02, saving a shot by Courtney Wetzel and a header by Buckhead with just six seconds remaining to seal the win and set off a Cowgirl celebration.

"Our team motto this year has been `Passion'," Michalowski said. "We just have to work for each other. When we go down like that, we talk to each other. We try not to get frustrated. You just go out there and give it your all because it could be your last game and you don't want it to be. So you just have to throw your heart into it."
 

Carson Michalowski scored off a rebound in the 82nd minute to complete the Cowgirls' come-from-behind victory over Oregon State to reach the Sweet 16.
 
"Our team motto this year has been passion. We just have to work for each other. When we go down like that, we talk to each other. We try not to get frustrated. You just go out there and give it your all because it could be your last game and you don't want it to be so you just have to throw your heart into it."

-Carson Michalowski

First Round: Michigan 1, Cowgirls 2
Oklahoma State used a pair of second-half goals to remain perfect on its home field this season as the No. 6 Cowgirls opened the 2010 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship with a 2-1 win over Michigan Friday night at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.

With the win, OSU advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth-straight year. The Cowgirls, who are a No. 3 national seed in the tourney, improved to 18-3-2 on the season, tying a school record for single-season wins, and also upped their record to 10-0-0 on their home field in 2010.

The win also sets up an all OSU second-round match as the Cowgirls will take on Oregon State Sunday at 1 p.m. looking to earn their first-ever Sweet 16 berth. The Beavers knocked off Memphis by a 5-0 count in Friday's other first-round game in Stillwater.

"It was a very scrappy game from both teams, a lot of effort," said OSU head coach Colin Carmichael. "Credit to Michigan, they did a great job, especially in the first half, of trying to take away our strengths and playing to their strengths. Thankfully, in the second half we were able to play with a little more energy and put them under a little more pressure, and I think that was the key to being able to get the two goals in the second half.

"(The Cowgirls) been under the gun a little bit for quite a few games now, and they always seem to find a way to pull it out. That's certainly a testament to the character of the team."

Michigan (10-5-4) took the first lead in the match in the 23rd minute. On an OSU attempt to clear the ball, the Wolverines' Tori McCombs blocked the kick of the defender and the ball rolled past goalie AD Franch to the far post to give UM a 1-0 advantage.

OSU managed just three shots in the opening half, and the Wolverines took the 1-0 lead into intermission.

But within a span of 69 seconds in the final half, the Cowgirls would go on top for good.

Just over eight minutes after halftime, the Cowgirls were awarded a free kick after a foul just outside the 18-yard box. And the home team took advantage, as Taylor Mathews sent a high cross into the box that Melinda Mercado headed past UM goalie Haley Kopmeyer for her first goal of the season.

"I practice headers everyday, and they keep telling me I'm due one," said Mercado, the 2010 Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. "Credit to Taylor (Mathews), that was an amazing ball. If I didn't finish that, I would've hurt myself."

With the goal, Mercado became the 11th different Cowgirl to find the back of the net this season and the 16th different player to record a point.

Up next, it would be time for heroics from another All-Big 12 First Team performer. This time it was Krista Lopez, who took a cross from Katie Richardson and, after two UM defenders collided, found herself with an open-net opportunity. And the junior converted, notching her 14th goal of the season, the third-highest total in school history, to put the Cowgirls on top for good at the 54:53 mark.

The Wolverines would manage just two shots in the final half as OSU advanced for another shot at the Sweet 16.

"We started out really slow and didn't come out with the enthusiasm that we wanted to, and that's a credit to Michigan because they fought really hard," Mercado said. "But in the second half we came out and did a great job of picking up the intensity and were able to come out with the win."

The Cowgirls fought back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Michigan 2-1 after Krista Lopez's game-winner in the 55th minute.
 
"We started out really slow and didn't come out with the enthusiasm that we wanted to, and that's a credit to Michigan because they fought really hard. But in the second half we came out and did a great job of picking up the intensity and were able to come out with the win."

-Melinda Mercado

 

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