By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Bedlam — it’s where heroes are made.
And while Friday’s edition of the in-state rivalry at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex may not have had much more than bragging rights on the line and the same fiery intensity that’s comes to be expected with Bedlam, it’ll be a night that Oklahoma State’s Courtney Dike won’t soon forget.
Dike, a freshman from Edmond North, tallied two goals in the first half as the Cowgirls erased an early deficit for a 4-1 win over the Sooners.
“There were definitely some nerves, but it was a good kind of nervous for me,” Dike said. “If you’re not nervous, that’s a bad sign. But it helped me play better.”
Those nerves only seemed to add energy to the Cowgirls (2-1-1), who dominated in seemingly every facet of the game.
But while the Cowgirls may have been slightly quicker and more athletic, it was actually Oklahoma (1-2-0) that struck first — quieting the large crowd.
A foul in the box gave the Sooners a free kick. Yukon native Abby Hodgen laced a shot into upper right 90 with 28:45 left in the first half, giving Oklahoma hope early for another win over their Bedlam rivals after beating the Cowgirls in Norman last season.
“I thought we played very well at the beginning of the game, and obviously going up a goal is a tough thing to do,” Oklahoma coach Matt Potter said. “Oklahoma State is a tradition. We’re trying to become a tradition. All in all, I thought we handled the environment very well. Then all of a sudden, we kind of lost our way a little bit. Those are the moments where we have to be able to pick each other up a bit ... and we obviously didn’t do that.”
Things continued to go Oklahoma’s way even on defense. Another foul in the box — this one by the Sooners — led to Oklahoma State’s first real scoring opportunity. But Miranda Larkin had other ideas.
Facing a penalty kick, Larkin made a diving stop on Allie Stephenson with 27:53 left before halftime, keeping the score at 1-0.
“That was a big save for us at that point in the game,” Potter said. “It kept us going and gave us some confidence. We just didn’t continue to carry that momentum like we should have.”
That lead didn’t last long as the Dike turned things around for the Cowgirls quickly. Madison Mercado’s high cross gave the freshman from Edmond North just enough time to get a head on the ball, burying it in the back of the net to even the score at 1-1 with 21:38 left in the half.
“We bounced back quickly,” Oklahoma State coach Colin Carmichael said. “I think we missed the penalty right after that, and you thought it might deter us, but I was really proud of the girls. It didn’t phase them. They just kept going. That’s kind of been our thing this year and it’s a really nice quality to have.
“Our forwards just started running at them. When you got Dike, (Kristen) Kelley and Allie (Stephenson) up front, those kids are dangerous. I thought earlier in the game they were pretty passive, but as we got going we started running at their back line and causing issues.”
Oklahoma State kept pouring it on as Stephenson seemingly curved the ball through a swarm of Sooner defenders into the back of the net for her first goal of the season, giving the Cowgirls their first lead of the game at 2-1 with 18:41 left in the half.
With momentum clearly on their side, Dike took a chance to keep the pressure on Oklahoma — aggressively pursuing Larkin after what seemed like a harmless ball in the box. That pursuit paid off in a big way as Dike stole the ball from Larkin’s feet before calmly depositing it in the back of the net for her second goal of the match.
“I was just pressuring the ball honestly,” Dike said. “I just decided to pressure the ball and it ended up in my favor.”
Oklahoma almost got back in the game when a cross sailed to the back post with 3:06 left, but Kelsey Bass was there to save the goal as the Cowgirls took a 3-1 lead into halftime.
Things got a little chippy in the second half as frustration started to boil over for the Sooners. Oklahoma State’s Lauren Reyes and Oklahoma’s Devin Barrett were each issued a yellow card after a tangle up with 35:11 left in the game that had both members of the coaching staffs screaming at each other across the midfield line — showing true Bedlam passion.
“It’s normal — It’s a normal Bedlam game,” Carmichael said. “The problem was for both teams there’s a lot of new kids that haven’t experienced too many of these. Even in years past, it’s never been a beautiful, technical, skillful game. There’s too much passion going around.
Already up 3-1, Mercado then put the cherry on top of the first edition of Bedlam for the Cowgirls, ripping a penalty kick past new Oklahoma goalkeeper Kassidie Stade, making the final tally 4-1.
“We just changed our mentality,” Mercado said. “We weren’t going to lose at home. We said that together in the game, ‘We do not lose at home, especially to our biggest rival.’ When we went down by one goal, we picked ourselves up and got four more to end the game.”
With the win, the Cowgirls will face Gonzaga Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex, while the Sooners will face Texas State at noon Sunday at the OU Soccer Complex in Norman.