The Cowgirls compiled a 10-10-1 overall record, which included a 5-2-1 mark and second-place finish in the Big 12 Conference.
The Cowgirls return 10 starters and 17 letterwinners from 2014, including four All-Big 12 performers in forwards Courtney Dike and Madison Mercado, midfielder Allie Stephenson and defender Natalie Calhoun.
OSU has compiled a 229-132-42 (.620) record in its first 19 seasons of women’s soccer. Head coach Colin Carmichael in his 11th season at the helm and owns a 146-52-29 record. The Cowgirls have earned a berth in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship in seven of the last eight years and have claimed Big 12 titles in four of the last seven seasons.
Coached by former OSU assistant Tony Economoupolos, Mercer returns four starters and 12 letterwinners from a 2014 team that went 14-6-2 and earned the second NCAA Tournament berth in program history by winning the Southern Conference championship. The Bears open the 2015 season Friday night at Tulsa.
Mercer is led by junior midfielder/forward Maddie Clark, who recorded six goals and two assists a year ago, and senior goalie Maggie Cropp, who collected 77 saves, five shutouts and a 0.84 goals-against average in 2014.
On The Air & The Web
Fans wishing to follow Sunday’s match can do so in a variety of ways. Live stats will be available at
www.okstate.com (link is available under the Schedule tab on the Cowgirl soccer page), and the match will also stream free online on YouTube, with the link available at www.okstate.com/live. A radio call also airs online and on Stillwater Radio KGFY 105.5 FM, with Bill Van Ness calling the action.
Back In the Saddle
In 2015, OSU will return 10 players who started at least 13 games a year ago, as well as 17 of its 22 letterwinners. Leading the way are four players who have earned All-Big 12 honors in their careers — seniors Madison Mercado and Allie Stephenson and juniors Natalie Calhoun and Courtney Dike.
A Look Back at 2014
Injuries took a heavy toll on OSU in 2014 as 13 different players, including eight starters, missed time due to injury.
Despite an 0-6-0 start to the season in which they were outscored by a 15-3 margin, the Cowgirls rallied to earn an NCAA Tournament berth for the second consecutive year by going 10-2-1 over their final 13 regular season matches. OSU outscored its opponents by a 19-9 count during that span.
OSU finished the 2014 season with a 10-10-1 record, which included a second-place showing in the Big 12 Conference with a 5-2-1 mark. The Cowgirls lost on their home field in the opening round of the NCAA Soccer Championship for the second-straight year as Arizona handed them a 1-0 loss.
In preseason voting by the league’s head coaches, OSU was picked to finish third in the Big 12 standings behind three-time defending league champion West Virginia and Texas Tech. Three Cowgirls — forwards Madison Mercado and Courtney Dike and midfielder Allie Stephenson — were named to the preseason All-Big 12 team.
Winning Is A Habit
The 2015 season will mark the 20th in the OSU program’s history. During the second decade, the Cowgirls have reached unprecedented heights.
• OSU has earned a berth in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship eight of the last nine years (starting in 2006).
• 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 — two regular season (2008, ’11) and two tournament (’09, ’10).
• 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.
With OSU’s win over Creighton in 2011, Colin Carmichael notched his 100th career victory. Entering his 11th season at the helm, Carmichael sports a career mark of 146-52-29 (.707).
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 9-3-0 on their home field in 2014. OSU is 46-7-7 (.825) at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex since 2010, and the Cowgirls sport a 64-9-7 record (.844) on their home field since 2008. They are 122-33-14 (.763) all time on their current home turf.
Four Cowgirls earned all-conference honors from the Big 12 in 2014, and each of those is now a multiple season all-league performer. Even better, all four are back for 2015.
Senior midfielder Allie Stephenson was named to the 2014 All-Big 12 First Team after earning second-team plaudits as a sophomore. Defender Natalie Calhoun and forward Courtney Dike have both earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors in their first two collegiate seasons, while senior forward Madison Mercado was an All-Big 12 Second Team selection in 2014 and as a freshman in 2012.
OSU returns 95 percent of its goal scoring from a year ago and 87 percent of its assists.
She Shoots, She Scores
Courtney Dike quickly established herself as a prolific scorer at the collegiate level as a freshman, and she continued to produce as a sophomore.
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 marked 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 on two occasions in 2013.
In 2014, Dike recorded three goals, two of them game winners, and three assists in 19 games.
The Biggest Stage
Courtney Dike is one of a select few collegiate players who can boast of having played in a Women’s World Cup.
Dike earned a pair of caps for Nigeria at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada last July. Her first came as a reserve in a match against Australia, and in the Super Falcons’ final tourney game, Dike was in the starting lineup against the eventual champion United States. She played 50 minutes against the U.S. before subbing out early in the second half.
Dike concluded her first trip to the Women’s World Cup playing 56 minutes and recording one shot. Nigeria finished 0-2-1 at the tourney and failed to advance out of Group D.
The experience was historic as Dike became the first OSU player to participate in a World Cup and also the first-ever Oklahoman to compete in a Women’s World Cup.
In 2014, Dike was a member of the Nigeria U-20 Women’s National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. That trip proved highly successful, though it meant OSU was without its top scorer for the first two games of 2014.
During that tourney, Dike helped the Falconets into the U-20 World Cup final, where they dropped a 1-0 decision to Germany. A starter at forward throughout most of the tourney, Dike recorded a pair of goals in six games. In pool play 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 into the semifinal match against North Korea to help Nigeria advance to the final.
Dike’s parents, Vincent and Jacinta, are natives of Nigeria, and her older brother, Bright, is on the country’s men’s national team.
Senior Scoring Sparks
Two key members of OSU’s offensive attack the last several years are back for their senior seasons in 2015. That duo of Allie Stephenson and Madison Mercado has combined for 27 goals and 21 assists in their careers.
Stephenson enters her final season with 14 career goals and 11 career assists in 62 games. As a junior, she led OSU’s offensive attack as she played a role in nine of the Cowgirls’ 22 scores (41 percent). The midfielder recorded six goals — two via penalty kick — and three assists and ranked in the top 10 in the Big 12 in goals, points (15) and shots (60). She led the squad with 23 shots on goal.
Mercado has notched 13 goals and 10 assists in her first three seasons. She has recorded four or more scores every year, and she ranked second in the Big 12 with seven assists as a sophomore in 2013.
Keeping ’Em Outta The Net
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, ’07, ’09, ’10, ’11) and recorded 74 shutouts in 146 games during that span.
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.
Over the last 15 games of the 2015 season, during which OSU went 10-4-1, the Cowgirls recorded six shutouts and allowed just 11 goals.
The Going Gets Tough
In 2014, OSU’s schedule ranked as the second toughest in the NCAA, which helped the Cowgirls finish 34th in the RPI, and the Big 12 ranked as the second-highest RPI conference in the nation a year ago.
Things won’t be any easier in 2015 as OSU will face a dozen teams that made the NCAA Soccer Championship last season, including seven in non-conference play. Of the Cowgirls’ 18 opponents, five are nationally ranked in the preseason polls — Florida (8), West Virginia (12), Texas Tech (15), UCF (17) and Kansas (23).
Only five newcomers joined the OSU roster in 2015, but several among the group are expected to be immediate contributors. Freshman forwards Marlo Zoller and Haley Woodard were in the starting 11 for the preseason exhibition match against SMU, with Zoller tallying the Cowgirls’ lone goal, and JUCO transfer Christina Jean-Charles was a starter in the midfield. Another freshman, Morgan McDougal, saw action as a reserve.