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Soccer Preview: Cowgirls a Win Away from Big 12 Championship

OSU has a chance to lift the Big 12 trophy on Halloween.

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STILLWATER — Thursday night will be a lot of things for the Cowgirls.

It’s Halloween, it’s senior night and it’s a night that Oklahoma State can capture its second Big 12 championship in the past three seasons. There are a few ways the Cowgirls can lift the conference hardware, but the most simple is beating Baylor at 7 p.m. in Neal Patterson Stadium.

A Texas Tech loss Thursday night would also crown the Cowgirls. Tech is the only team that has beaten OSU (13-1-3) this season. The Red Raiders sit two points behind the Cowgirls on the league table, but if OSU was to tie against Baylor and Tech was to beat K-State, the Red Raiders would be crowned conference champions in a head-to-head tiebreaker.

“If we win, we know it doesn’t matter what they do,” OSU coach Colin Carmichael said Wednesday. “So really all we can control is ourselves. We’re talking a lot about Baylor and what they do and a lot about what we need to do. The Tech/K-State game will take care of itself. We expect (Tech) to win. So you just go into the game with that mindset: they’re going to win, so we need to win.”

Carmichael said his team is coming at Thursday’s game just like it has any other game on the schedule to this season because that type of preparation has worked thus far.

The No. 12 Cowgirls are on a spree of six straight wins. In that time, OSU has outscored its opponents 17-5. The Cowgirls will be without Grace Yochum, their leading goal scorer, for a second straight game with a shoulder injury.

Baylor is 4-4 in Big 12 play this season, and the Bears are coming off a 2-0 victory against Iowa State.

It’ll be a chilly match, with temperatures in Stillwater expected to be near freezing Thursday night. There were small snow flurries in Stillwater on Wednesday.

The Cowgirls had to fight through less-than-ideal conditions in their last outing, as OSU beat Oklahoma 3-1 on a cold, wet night in Stillwater.

“It’s all about mentality,” senior defender Elise Hawn said. “You can easily go out there and go, ‘Oh, it’s so cold,’ but what is that going to do to anyone? Instead, dig in and we just gotta get it done. It’s not always gonna be pretty soccer. Bedlam wasn’t the prettiest soccer game to watch, but it was a fight. It’s just about adapting to whatever the weather gives you.”

OSU has five seniors on its roster in Hawn, Jaci Jones, Claire Gantzer, Julia Lenhardt and Kirsten Siragusa. Carmichael said the experience his team has is, in part, what has led to the Cowgirls’ consistent play on the field. But with a Big 12 title within reach, Carmichael said his team can’t get distracted with senior night.

“These kids deserve to be recognized for the great job they’ve done for our program,” Carmichael said. “However the big picture is we’re trying to win a championship. That needs to be our focus. We’ll honor the seniors after the game win, lose or tie. We’ll certainly honor them at our banquet in February as much as we possibly can, but I think the real focus isn’t about the seniors because they’re gonna play again. We know we’re playing some postseason games, so it’s not over for them yet.

“So really the big focus, unfortunately for the seniors, can’t be the seniors tomorrow night. Like I said, let’s get the game over with, let’s try to win it and then we’ll do what we need to do.”

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