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Cowgirls Set For Big 12 Play - KOAM TV 7

Cowgirls Set For Big 12 Play

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Press Release OSU:

     Oklahoma State carries a four-game winning streak and a 4-6-0 record into the start of Big 12 Conference play, which sees the Cowgirls open at home against Iowa State Friday at 7 p.m. Following its league opener, OSU will face its final non-conference opponent of the season Sunday when the Cowgirls host Dayton at 1 p.m.

     OSU's current run of four consecutive victories marks its longest winning streak since the Cowgirls opened the 2012 season 6-0-0.

     Now in its 19th season, OSU compiled a 219-122-41 (.627) record in its first 18 seasons of women's soccer. Head coach Colin Carmichael is in his 10th season at the helm and owns a 140-48-28 record. The Cowgirls have earned a berth in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship in seven of the last nine years and have claimed Big 12 titles in four of the last six seasons.

The Opponents 

     Iowa State is 6-4-0 on the season under first-year head coach Tony Minatta. Sophomore forward Koree Willer leads the Cyclones' attack with a Big 12-best eight goals. OSU is 8-8-2 all time against Iowa State and lost to the Cyclones 1-0 in Ames a year ago.

     Dayton will bring a 4-5-1 mark and two-game winning streak into Sunday's game. Juniors Ashley Campbell (7 goals, 2 assists) and Nicole Waters (5 goals, 6 assists), who hail from Canada, lead an attack that has recorded 21 goals on the year. Sunday's match will mark the first ever between OSU and Dayton.

On The Air & The Web 

     Fans wishing to follow this weekend's matches can do so in a variety of ways. Live stats are available at 

www.okstate.com (link is available under the Schedule tab on the Cowgirl soccer page), while both matches will also stream online on www.okstate.tv (there is a fee involved to watch). A radio call of Sunday's game vs. Dayton will also air online and on Stillwater Radio KGFY 105.5 FM, with Bill Van Ness calling the action.

Familiar Faces

In 2014, OSU returns 10 of its 11 starters from last season as well as 18 of its 22 letterwinners. Leading the way are four players who have earned All-Big 12 honors in their careers — sophomores Natalie Calhoun and Courtney Dike and juniors Madison Mercado and Allie Stephenson. 

     The Cowgirls will be without one of those returning starters in 2014, however, as goalie Michela Ongaro will miss the season due to a knee injury. But senior Rosa Medina, who started the first eight games last season and had 14 career starts in the net in her first three seasons, has stepped in to fill that void.

Quick 2013 Recap

OSU finished the 2013 campaign with a 9-7-6 record, which included a sixth-place showing in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 2-3-3 mark.

     Following a run to the Big 12 Championship finals, where they lost to top-seeded West Virginia, 1-0, the Cowgirls were awarded a berth in the NCAA Soccer Championship, their seventh NCAA tourney berth in the last nine seasons. In the NCAA opening round, OSU suffered a 2-1 loss to Arkansas on its home field to end the season.

Preseason Prognostications

Big 12 Conference coaches thought highly of the Cowgirls heading into the 2014 season.

     In preseason voting by those coaches, OSU was picked to finish third in the team standings behind two-time defending league champion West Virginia and Texas Tech and was the only team besides WVU to garner a first-place vote.

     Three Cowgirls were chosen for the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, with OSU tying West Virginia for the most selections in the league. The coaches voted Natalie Calhoun, Courtney Dike and Allie Stephenson to the preseason all-conference team.

Winning Is A Habit

The OSU program has reached unprecedented heights over the last decade.

     • From 2006-11, the Cowgirls earned six-straight NCAA tourney bids and advanced to at least the second round each time, including back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in 2010 and 2011. 

     • From 2008-11, OSU celebrated four consecutive Big 12 championships. The Cowgirls have totaled five league titles in the last 11 seasons — three tournament (2003, '09, '10) and two regular season (2008, '11).

     • In 2011, OSU set a school record with 22 wins. The Cowgirls finished the '11 regular season 17-0-2, joining the 1996 Nebraska team as the only Big 12 Conference teams in history to go unbeaten during the regular season. OSU was 6-0-2 in conference play to claim its second regular-season Big 12 title and in doing so became the first Big 12 team since Texas A&M in 2002 to complete the league schedule without a loss.

Clutch When It Counts

OSU has made eight appearances in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship and ranks among the top 15 programs in all-time tourney winning percentage among teams that have played at least 15 NCAA tourney games. The Cowgirls are 9-5-4 in the NCAA Tournament, which translates to a .611 winning percentage.

Century Mark

With OSU's win over Creighton in 2011, Colin Carmichael notched his 100th career victory. In his 10th season at the helm, Carmichael sports a career mark of 140-48-28 (.713). 

     Karen Hancock, now a Cowgirl assistant, served as OSU's first-ever head coach and was 110-89-19 in 11 seasons. 

Home Sweet Home

     The Cowgirls are 4-2-0 on their home field this season. OSU is 41-6-7 (.824) at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex since 2010, and the Cowgirls sport a 59-8-7 record (.845) on their home field since 2008. They are 117-32-14 (.761) all time on their current home turf. 

Young Guns

     OSU's 30-player roster includes just nine upperclassmen and only four of those are seniors (Baillie Burmaster, George Christie, Rosa Medina and Miriam Rhinehart), while 21 players are either freshmen (8), redshirt freshmen (6) or sophomores (7). 

     Last season, OSU's regular starting lineup consisted of five freshmen and two sophomores, and freshmen accounted for 18 of the Cowgirls' 29 goals and 10 of its 22 assists in 2013.

     OSU is more experienced in 2014, but several newcomers are being counted on to make significant impacts, among them redshirt freshman Niki McKnight and true frosh Anna Beffer, Allie Rivers, Beryl Smith and Laurene Tresfield.

Shining Stars Return

     Five Cowgirls earned all-conference honors from the Big 12 in 2013, and each of those players returns this season. Sophomore Allie Stephenson and freshmen Courtney Dike and Natalie Calhoun were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while Dike and fellow frosh Krissi Killion and Michela Ongaro were on the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team.

     The Cowgirls' run to the '13 Big 12 Championship finals yielded four selections to the all-tournament team as Dike, Stephenson, Calhoun and Madison Mercado each garnered that honor.

100 Percent

     OSU scored 29 goals and recorded 22 assists in 2013, and every player who recorded those statistics returns in 2014. 

She Shoots, She Scores

     Courtney Dike quickly established herself as a prolific scorer at the collegiate level as a freshman last season, and she is the leading returning scorer in the Big 12 in 2014. 

     The forward from Edmond, Okla., ranked second in the Big 12 in 2013 with 13 goals and 30 points and earned All-Big 12 Second Team and All-Newcomer Team honors. Her 13 goals tied for the fourth most in a single season in OSU history, three shy of Yolanda Odenyo's record 16, while her 30 points was the eighth highest single-season total all time.

     Dike recorded three two-goal performances — vs. Vanderbilt, Oklahoma and Missouri State — which was the most multi-goal games by a Cowgirl since 2010, and of her 58 shots, 30 of those (52 percent) were on goal. She was named the Big 12 Offensive Player and Newcomer of the Week on two occasions in 2013.

     Scoring is nothing new for Dike, who netted 94 goals and 32 assists during her career at Edmond North High School.

International Stage

     Courtney Dike took her talents to Canada in August as a member of the Nigeria U-20 Women's National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. 

     The trip proved highly successful, though it meant OSU was without its top scorer for the first two games of 2014. Dike helped the Falconets into the U-20 World Cup final, where they dropped a 1-0 decision to Germany. A starter at forward throughout most of the tourney, Dike recorded a pair of goals in six games. In pool play against South Korea, she scored the fastest goal in FIFA Women's World Cup history as she found the back of the net just 18 seconds into the match, and she scored a goal 64 seconds into the semifinal match against North Korea to help Nigeria advance to the final.

     Dike's parents, Vincent and Jacinta, are natives of Nigeria, and her older brother, Bright, is a member of the country's men's national team.

Scoring Sparks

     Allie Stephenson has keyed OSU's offensive attack in 2014 as the junior midfielder has played a role in six of the Cowgirls' nine scores (67 percent). Stephenson has recorded four goals — two via penalty kick — and two assists and ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in goals, points (10) and shots (31). 

     Fellow junior Madison Mercado has notched a pair of goals and an assist, while senior Miriam Rhinehart, sophomore Courtney Dike and freshman Anna Beffer each has a goal and an assist on the year.

     Stephenson and Mercado have combined for 23 goals (12 for Stephenson, 11 for Mercado) and 20 assists (10 each) in their careers.

Keeping 'Em OUtta The Net

     OSU has established itself as one of the top defensive programs in the country. From 2006-11, the Cowgirls led the Big 12 in shutouts five times (2006, '07, '09, '10, '11) and recorded 74 shutouts in 146 games during that span. 

     In 2011, OSU led the NCAA with 18 shutouts and a 0.337 goals against average, and the Cowgirls' .922 save percentage ranked as the fourth-best in a single season in NCAA history.      

Stout Competition

     Of OSU's first 10 opponents this season, five have been or are nationally ranked.     

Walking Wounded

     OSU has been hit hard by the injury bug in 2014, with 10 different players missing time due to injuries. Six starters have missed action due to injury, while three other potential starters have been lost. The list of injured Cowgirls includes:

     Michela Ongaro, Soph., GK - out for season with knee injury suffered during summer

     Anna Beffer, Fr., F - started first two games but missed next six with sprained ankle; returned vs. Memphis

     Madison Mercado, Jr., F - All-Big 12 performer started first three games but went down with knee injury vs. Florida State and missed next three games

     Krissi Killion, Soph., F - played in first two games but leg/knee injuries kept her out of next four; returned vs. Cal Poly

     Beryl Smith, Fr., MF - dislocated elbow vs. Florida and missed next two games; returned vs. Cal Poly

     Miriam Rhinehart, Sr., MF/D - was ill and did not play vs. Arizona State

     Laurene Tresfield, Fr., MF - started first five games, suffered leg injury four minutes into Arizona State match, missed the rest of that contest and came off bench vs. Arizona; missed Memphis match with illness

     Haley Maurice, Soph., MF - missed first two games of season with ankle injury

     Tori Ruszkowski, R-Fr., MF - earned first-career start vs. Arizona, suffered knee injury in second half

     Natalie Calhoun, Soph., D - missed final 28 minutes vs. Cal Poly after suffering a head injury; returned vs. UT Martin

     Additionally, Allie Stephenson, a junior All-Big 12 midfielder who started every game in her first two-plus seasons in a Cowgirl uniform, missed the Arizona State game to attend the funeral of a family member.

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