By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State soccer coach Colin Carmichael won’t have to say a word Friday night as the Cowgirls open the Big 12 road season. Well, maybe one word — Bedlam.
What better way to open Big 12 play on the road than with a trip to John Crain Stadium in Norman to face your most heated rival and a team you beat 4-1 earlier this season?
“Obviously I love playing soccer, but the Bedlam games are really fun to play in because there’s so much energy and emotion surrounding it,” Oklahoma State senior Kristen Kelley said. “It’s always really exciting, whether we play here or there, because they are our in-state rivals. It’s always a good game.”
No doubt, emotions will be high when the Cowgirls and Sooners meet up Friday at 7 p.m., but this Bedlam matchup will be a little different than in years past.
For starters, both teams will be looking for their first Big 12 win after Oklahoma State (4-3-4, 0-1-1) lost to West Virginia and tied Texas Tech last weekend, while Oklahoma (3-7-1, 0-1-0) lost 1-0 at Baylor.
“Beyond it being Bedlam, we just need to get on a roll here and get a few wins,” Carmichael said. “We’ve played well at times. We’ve played really good competition. But now we just need a few wins in a row to get us going.”
Carmichael usually considers every Bedlam game a must-win just because of the rivalry, but when it comes to this year’s Big 12 edition could be the springboard Oklahoma State needs to make a run at the Big 12 title and possibly a NCAA berth.
“Two wins this weekend would put us in a great spot in the conference,” Carmichael said. “We’d be 2-1-1 with a week off to rest and I think RPI-wise it would put us in the top 40 in the country, which is where we want to be for the NCAA Tournament. It’s very important this weekend, and we know that so we’re really focused in trying to get two road wins (against Oklahoma and TCU).”
But getting a road win at Oklahoma may be easier said than done for the Cowgirls. Despite already beating the Sooners in Stillwater earlier in the season, several players have yet to get a taste of what life in the Big 12 is like on the road.
“It will be tough for them to go and play, but it will be good for them to see how other teams play in the Big 12,” Kelley said. “I think they’ve been really well-prepared by our previous nonconference games against Florida and Florida State, going to their place. It’s really helped prepare them mentally and physically for what we’re about to see in Big 12 away games.”
Having already seen Oklahoma and beaten them in Stillwater, you’d think the Cowgirls would have the upper hand heading into Friday’s game, but Kelley isn’t so sure that’s the case.
“It kind of works the opposite,” Kelley said. “Sometimes when teams beat a team they think they can slack a little bit. That’s when they’re most susceptible to lose. We have to go out there knowing that we are going to get their best game — better than they had played previously — because they’re going to want to come out and make up for what happened in the last game.”
The Sooners may be itching for a little revenge, but Carmichael said throughout the week that his team’s focus has remained steady — although not necessarily on Bedlam per se.
“What we’ve done is talked about how important it is for us to get our first win in the Big 12 this year, whether it’s OU, TCU, Texas or whoever is next,” Carmichael said. “We just need to win games. The first (Bedlam) game was great for us. It counts toward our RPI and things, but this one counts in the league and we need to get a win, so we’ve addressed that a little bit with our team.”