Just win, that’s all.
It’s that simple for Colin Carmichael and his squad.
That’s all the Oklahoma State women’s soccer team has to do Thursday night and it will win its second Big 12 Conference regular season title in the past three years.
It would mark the fourth time the Cowgirls have won the Big 12 title. They also won in 2008, 2011 and 2017.
“I’m just ready to go,” Carmichael said. “Waiting around is probably the worst part of it all. The kids are excited. The coaches and staff are excited. It’s a big challenge. We know what’s at stake, but at the same time we’re just trying to go win another game.”
Senior midfielder Jaci Jones also said the Cowgirls are focused on winning Thursday, not what’s at stake.
“There is so much on the line, and we all know that, but at the same time, our mentality throughout the week has been focusing on the game, not all the other stuff that is going to come with the game,” Jones said. “It’s senior night and the Big 12 championship is on the line. Those are bonuses, but we are really focused on the game and knowing what we have to do.”
The Cowgirls (13-1-3 overall, 6-1-1 conference) will be attempting clinch the conference title outright when they host Baylor (8-6-3, 4-4-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Neal Patterson Stadium.
OSU is 8-0-1 at home this fall, with the lone tie coming against SMU before the conference slate began. In Big 12 action, the Cowgirls are 3-0 at home, with the last win – a 3-1 victory – coming Friday against Bedlam rival Oklahoma.
“I think there is the familiarity of the field and how it plays and the speed and all the little things,” Carmichael said. “The home crowd gives you that extra bit of energy in any sport, so that helps. But, there is also just the comfort level – you’re sleeping in your own bed, your friends and family are around you and you’re in your routine. You’re not on a bus or in a hotel. I think all of those things combined is why in most sports there is a home-field advantage.
“Our home field advantage has been great this year, and we’ve maximized it and used it to our benefit. Maybe that gives us a slight edge into the game, but we can’t rely on that. We have to take care of business and play to the best of our ability.”
They enter Thursday’s contest riding a six-game winning streak. Their last loss was a 1-0 defeat at Texas Tech on Sept. 26.
Texas Tech is the one team that can spoil the Cowgirls’ bid for a conference title. The Red Raiders must defeat Kansas State to claim at least a tie for the championship.
However, a Cowgirls’ win or Texas Tech loss would allow OSU to celebrate a conference crown on its home field.
“If we win, we know it doesn’t matter what they do,” Carmichael said. “So really, all we can do is 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 and K-State game will take care of itself. We expect Tech to win, so you go into the game with the mindset they’re going to win, so we need to win.”
Celebrating a conference title at Patterson Stadium, which opened up August 2018, is something the Cowgirls hope they get to experience.
“Oh my gosh, it would be so amazing,” junior goalkeeeper Dani Greenlee said. “To win it here, in front our fans on Halloween, because last time we won it, we weren’t here so we didn’t have our fans behind us and we still won, which was awesome. To bring it here and show our fans how loyal we are to them, as well as they are to us, and show how appreciative we are. We can’t win championships without our fans and I think that’s really important to remember.”
Of course, it’s also senior night for the Cowgirls. It’s the final regular season home game, but they hope to play a postseason game in Stillwater following the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., which ends Nov. 10.
“In the back of our minds, we’re hopeful we’re going to get to have another game at home if things go like we think they’re going to go,” Jones said. “It is senior night and it will be emotional. I cry all of the time and everyone knows that, so I’ll probably shed a few tears before the game. You just have to worry about that stuff after the game.”
Greenlee said the Cowgirls want to win to continue proving doubters wrong, as they’ve done all season.
“It’s so exciting that we’re in this spot, because nobody thought that we were going to do it,” Greenlee said. “I think we were picked seventh at the beginning and here we are fighting for the top spot.”
“Last year, we were still a really good team, but we just didn’t end the season very well. … We were ready to come in and show everybody what we were made of. Nobody thought we had it in us, but here we are having a great opportunity to once again prove people wrong.”