Oklahoma State Cowgirls soccer will make their 12th NCAA tournament appearance.
Despite bowing out of the Big 12 tourney to eventual champion Kansas, Cowgirl FC was chosen as a #3 seed and will host South Dakota State (15-4-3) at Neal Patterson Stadium on Friday, November 15 at 7pm CT.
The Big 12 overall is well represented with five of the top eight teams getting at-large bids while Kansas claimed the automatic bid for the conference tournament winner. TCU will travel to Arizona, #3 seed Kansas will host Iowa, Texas heads to Texas A&M (give me all of that!), West Virginia travels to Georgetown, and #4 seed Texas Tech will host Pepperdine.
As the Oklahoma State Cowgirl soccer squad awaits their first round tournament match, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at one of the more consequential hires in OSU athletics history.
Soccer was added to women’s sports in 1996 when the Big 12 was formed.
The first nine seasons of Cowgirl FC action was a story of gradual but slow development. After an inaugural campaign that saw a winning record overall, OSU posted four straight losing seasons fromIf you add in 1997 they went five straight seasons without posting an overall positive result. The Cowgirls would change that in a big way starting in 2002, posting 13-15-12 wins respectively over the next three years. They also snagged their first NCAA tournament bid in 2003 thanks to winning the Big 12 tournament title, but this overall success was not translating to Big 12 regular season play as Oklahoma State logged a losing record in each of the first nine conference seasons.
Prior to the 2005 season Colin Carmichael was named co-head coach, but he was no stranger to the program. Both Carmichael and head coach at that time, Karen Hancock, had been with Cowgirl FC since the inception of the program in 1996, and Hancock remains as an assistant. Associate Head Coach Justin Elkington has been a part of Cowgirl soccer for 12 years, so the stability around the program is phenomenal and clearly plays a large role in its development. In 2007 Carmichael took over full-time duties as head coach.
With Coach Carmichael at the helm OSU would almost immediately step into the Big 12 spotlight by finishing 8-1-1 in 2006 for their first winning record in conference play. That season would kick off a string of six straight appearances in the NCAA tournament and back-to-back Big 12 tourney titles in 2010-11. The conference titles coincided with the Cowgirls deepest ever runs in the NCAA tourney, culminating with quarterfinal losses to eventual champions Notre Dame in 2010 (0-2) and Stanford in 2011 (1-2, OT). During this run Cowgirl FC registered two seasons with only one loss in conference and were undefeated in Big 12 play in 2011.
While OSU would struggle a bit in conference play over the next five seasons, they would still manage one Big 12 tourney title (NCAA auto bid) and two additional NCAA at-large bids. The 2017 season would see the Cowgirls come roaring back to claim a Big 12 regular season title (8-1) and an NCAA at-large bid. Injuries subdued the 2018 campaign’s hopes, and rebuilding was a major reason Oklahoma State was picked to finish 7th in the Big 12 in the preseason.
That prediction did not age well.
Cowgirl FC would tie their record for fewest losses in a season (2, 2011) and register a top 10 win over Penn State. Big 12 competition got off to a rough start with a loss at Texas Tech (who would eventually finish 2nd in the Big 12) and a tie at TCU. Coach Carmichael’s squad would then reel off seven straight wins to claim another regular season Big 12 championship. This was made that much more remarkable given the Cowgirls lost a couple of key players including offensive star and midfielder Grace Yochum who will be out for the season with a non-specified shoulder injury.
The post-season is still unknown, but going into next season Cowgirl FC should see a much more favorable pre-season prediction as they graduate just five seniors from the existing roster of 26, including 2019 Big 12 assist leader Jaci Jones. Yochum, Olyvia Dowell, Kim Rodriguez, and Gabriella Coleman all finished in the top 10 in several Big 12 statistical categories and all return, and goalie Dani Greenlee (Jr) was first in average goals against and second in save percentage. Overall OSU led the league in goals scored (47) despite finishing 9th in shots taken (256). This translated to a goal for every 5.44 shots taken, with the next closest being Texas Tech at one goal for every 7.76 shots taken. Thanks to the stellar play of Greenlee, Hannah Warner, and Brylee Brasher the Cowgirls tied for fewest goals allowed (13, Texas Tech).
The winning consistency during Carmichael’s 15 years at the helm has been incredible:
- Not a single losing season
- Four Big 12 regular season titles
- Three Big 12 tournament titles
- 11 NCAA tournament appearances
- Never missed NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons
- Two NCAA quarterfinal appearances
Cowgirl FC also holds the series advantage over most of its current Big 12 foes:
- Oklahoma 27-9-3 (don’t show this to Gundy)
- Texas Tech 15-8-4
- TCU 6-3-3
- Kansas State 3-0
- Kansas 13-10-4
- Iowa State 12-10-2
- Texas 12-11-6
- Baylor 12-13-3
- West Virginia 1-9
If you are not going to be at Neal Patterson Stadium this Friday, watch for viewing information here later this week.