Cowgirls Set To Kick Off 2014 Season

Press Release OSU:

Oklahoma State enters the 19th season in program history in 2014 and will be on the road for a pair of matches on opening weekend. First up is Bedlam-rival Oklahoma in what will be a non-conference showdown Friday night in Norman. Following that, the Cowgirls travel to Fayetteville, Ark., on Sunday to battle an Arkansas squad that ended OSU’s season in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship last season. Both matches will kick off at 7 p.m.

OSU has compiled a 219-122-41 (.627) record in its first 18 seasons of women’s soccer. Head coach Colin Carmichael in his 10th season at the helm and owns a 136-42-28 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

OU is coming off a 4-13-1 season and returns eight starters from that squad. OSU won both meetings against the Sooners in 2013 and is 19-3-3 all time against its rival, which includes an 8-2-0 mark in Norman.

Arkansas is coming off a 15-8-1 campaign in which it advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship, and eight starters return in 2014. OSU is 5-1-0 all time against Arkansas, with three of those wins coming in Fayetteville. The last meeting came in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament, with the Razorbacks knocking off the Cowgirls, 2-1.

On The Air & The Web

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

www.okstate.com (links available under Schedule tab). Friday’s Bedlam contest will be televised live on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox College Sports Central, while Sunday’s showdown at Arkansas will stream online on SEC Network+ via SECNetwork.com or the WatchESPN app. Both games will also air live on Stillwater Radio KGFY 105.5 FM with Bill Van Ness on the call.

Familiar Faces

OSU returns 10 of its 11 starters from 2013 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 has 14 career starts in the net, is expected to fill that void.

Quick 2013 Recap

OSU finished the 2013 campaign with a 9-7-6 record, which included a seventh-place finish 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 think 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 nine seasons at the helm, Carmichael sports a career mark of 136-42-28 (.728).

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 were 4-3-3 on their home field last season. OSU is 37-4-7 (.844) at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex since 2010, and the Cowgirls sport a 55-6-7 record (.860) on their home field since 2008. They are 113-30-14 (.764) 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 OSU’s 29 goals and 10 of its 22 assists in 2013.

While the team is more experienced in 2014, several newcomers could make a significant impact, among them redshirt freshman Niki McKnight and true frosh Anna Beffer, Abbey Bright, 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.

Freshman Phenom

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 and the College Sports Madness Big 12 Player of the Week on two occasions in 2013 — Sept. 3 after recording three goals and an assist in wins against OU and Gonzaga and on Oct. 22 after matching those same stats in games against Texas and Missouri State.

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 has taken her talents to Canada this month as a member of the Nigeria U-20 Women’s National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

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.

The trip to Canada has proven successful as Dike has helped the Falconets into Sunday’s U-20 World Cup final. In a pool play game 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 in the semifinal match against North Korea to help Nigeria advance to the final.

Scoring Punchers

As a freshman in 2012, Madison Mercado earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors and finished second on OSU with four goals. In 2013, the midfielder recorded five goals and is tied for second in the Big 12 with seven assists, including three at the Big 12 Soccer Championship. Of her five goals, two have been game winners (vs. UT Martin and Gonzaga).

Allie Stephenson has also stepped up her production as a sophomore a year ago and was rewarded by earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors. Her six goals tripled the total from her freshman year (2), and three of her goals were game winners, which ranked fourth in the Big 12. She added three assists after leading OSU with five in 2012.

Shutouts and Scores

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, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and recorded 74 shutouts in 146 games during that span. The Cowgirls had five shutouts in 2013.

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.

The Cowgirls don’t just thrive on defense. They also led the Big 12 in goals scored in 2008 (74) and 2010 (52) and were second in the league with 56 goals in 2011.

Like Kissing Your Sister

OSU’s six ties last season was the most in program history, two more than the 2008 Cowgirl squad. The NCAA record is nine, set by William & Mary in 2005.

Free Soccer

OSU played eight overtime games in 2013 and was 2-0-6 in those games. The Cowgirls played 142:15 of extra time on the year.