Friday, 3:00 PM
Oklahoma State (10-9-1; 2nd – Big XII; WTSR – 1.01, T4 – Big XII)
Arizona (10-7-2; 9th – Pac-12; WTSR – 0.97, 7th – Pac-12)
Oh God, Another Rematch?
Yeah, I know.
Remind Me, What Happened Then?
OSU took an early lead in the second half from the penalty spot but eventually buckled under a wave of relentless pressure (and constant substitutions), giving up three goals in the final seven minutes to lose 3-1.
So Wait, Why Should I Be Watching This?
Because Oklahoma State’s a more complete team than they were back then. OSU was going through injury hell and were missing: Madison Mercado, Anna Beffer, Krissi Killion, and Beryl Smith among others The first three of those players started the club’s last match in the Big XII Tournament, with Smith playing solid bench minutes. OSU finished second in a very good Big XII with their core playing squad back intact and have improved markedly since then.
So It’s Going To Be Easy With Home Advantage, Right?
Not necessarily. OSU is a team that still has some very apparent flaws. The defense is solid but unspectacular, with goalkeeper Rosa Medina prone to some unfortunate lapses in concentration this season. Going the other way, the club has struggled to find a true leader in the attack. Take out penalties, and joint leading scorers Allie Stephenson and Madison Mercado have just four goals each this season, a paltry return for an NCAA Tournament team. Many of the struggles have been down to the ragged form of sophomore Courtney Dike who has largely been out of sorts since returning from the U20 World Cup. She has just three goals on forty-seven shots after an excellent freshman season last year. Hopes for advancing deep probably rely on a late push from the Nigerian youth international.
You’re Really Expecting Me To Put My Faith In A Team That Finished Ninth In Their Conference?
Hey, that’s ninth in a really good conference!
They’ve Won Just One Of Their Last Seven!
You might be starting to win me over.
Is The Arizona Defense Really Going To Be Able To Stop Anyone?
Good question. They haven’t kept a clean sheet in over a month, or eight games. They’ve also shipped multiple goals to the likes of Florida Gulf Coast, while letting in three to Colorado earlier this month. But hey, they might have lucked out in getting an opponent with such a limited attack.
Please Tell Me This Team Can Score Then.
They can! Just not many of the players. Gabi Stoian has been the rock up front with thirteen goals to her name this year. The rookie also has seven assists and has been the offensive force that the club has really needed for ages. Alexandra Doller is the auxiliary option with six goals, but nobody else has more than two. If Stoian isn’t firing, odds are, Arizona isn’t scoring.
Neither of These Sides Seem Long For The Tournament.
Yup. Arizona did draw Texas A&M earlier in the season but are out of form, while the Aggies are very much in form at the moment. Oklahoma State doesn’t have the horses to keep up with A&M if it’s anything but a defensive slopfest.
And The Pick Is…
This is probably one of the hardest matches to call in the first round. OSU’s experience in this competition, as well as its home advantage will probably be enough for them to wheeze over the line. I think the Cowgirls will win it, but it won’t be very pretty.