The Oklahoma State soccer squad will kickoff their season today in Norman in what will be a non-conference Bedlam battle. The Cowgirls have won 19 of the last 25 meetings between the rivals, but head coach Colin Carmichael isn't really looking at his team as a favorite.
"We're probably favored based on history, but neither team has played a real game yet, so it's tough to say" Carmichael said after practice on Wednesday.
OSU handled the Lady Sooners in Stillwater last season, 4-1, but it was a little tougher on the road. The Cowgirls slid by with a 2-1 win thanks to a goal by Allie Stephenson with 46 seconds left in the second overtime period.
"It will be hostile, but I know me and my team are good at blocking it out, playing our game, and we'll compete really well. We have a deeper bench, so we'll be energized the whole game and have a lot of energy out there," defender Niki McKnight said of the road environment in Norman.
Oklahoma State may have a deeper lineup this season, but will have to play without leading scorer Courtney Dike. Dike will miss the first two games of the season while representing Nigeria in the Under-20 World Cup in Canada. Dike has helped lead her team into the finals and won't return to Stillwater until Monday.
In Dike's absence, freshman Anna Beffer stepped up last Saturday against SMU in an exhibition game at Dallas. Beffer dished two assists in the Cowgirls' 2-2 draw and nearly scored the winning goal as time winded down.
Oklahoma State still remains a young team. They return six freshmen who made the starting lineup last season, and are adding more freshmen to the lineup, including Beffer and French recruit Laurene Tresfield.
Most teams will begin the season with a "cupcake" match to help prepare their new talent, but OSU does not have that benefit.
"Well it's a huge game obviously, anytime it's Bedlam it's just massive for both programs. To open up with them, I guess it's good and bad. It's exciting, the team is fired up for it, but you know you might want an easier one beforehand, but it really does sit a tone and we'll go down there and do everything we can to win, but at the same time if we don't, if we come up short, then we also know we got another eighteen games to play, so we can't dwell on that either," Carmichael said.
The Cowgirls are set to begin at 7 p.m. tonight in Norman.