Charmé Morgan’s true junior season ended before it ever began.
The Frisco, Texas, native started in all but one of the 22 games during the 2017 season. She scored a pair of game-winning goals that season, so expectations were high on here following the 2017 fall.
That spring, she tore her ACL and was forced to redshirt the 2018 campaign.
Morgan is back and ready to play this fall. The Oklahoma State women’s soccer team will host Tulsa at 7 p.m. Friday at Neal Patterson Stadium for an exhibition match.
Although Friday night’s action won’t officially count toward the Cowgirls’ record, it will be a chance for Morgan to play at Patterson Stadium.
“I’m feeling great,” Morgan said. “I’m incredibly blessed to be back. It’s hard to sit on the sidelines and watch, so I’m really motivated and ready to get back out there.”
Last week, OSU coach Colin Carmichael talked about Morgan’s recovery and how she appears to be ready to play once again.
“She played and trained all spring, but she was just getting back,” Carmichael said. “That’s a 7-8 month injury. When you miss that much time in your sport, it takes time to get back, not just physically, but mentally. You lose confidence and you feel like you’re not playing at the same level. It looks like she is back prior to the injury. She is confident. She has pace – change of speed back.”
Even sophomore Grace Yochum, who hasn’t played with Morgan during the fall season, acknowledges Morgan’s return is key for the Cowgirls this year.
“Even watching her in the spring, she’s a game changer,” Yochum said. “It’s going to be really huge having her fly up the wing and create changes for us. She’s going to be big for us.”
Morgan’s injury was just one of many that plagued the Cowgirls last year. The rest came during the season, but they began to pile up despite OSU earning some solid early season victories, including a 1-0 home win over Florida.
It was a year Carmichael won’t forget, but for the wrong reasons.
“There are obviously some things you can do, but last year was a freak year,” Carmichael said. “I’ve been here over 20 years and we’ve only had one other year where I thought it was similar as far as the number of injuries at one time. … By the end of the season, we had six starters out. That’s just bizarre.
“There’s not many teams in the country that can compete at this level with that many. The fact that we were in all those games – I actually take that as a positive. We weren’t getting blown out. All of the games were competitive, but we just didn’t have enough. Hopefully we stay healthy, and I hope some of those close games go our way.”
As the injuries piled up, the wins became harder to obtain. OSU lost its final six games, but five of those six losses were by a single goal.
“It was well documented last year, if we didn’t suffer as many injuries as we did, there’s no way we’re losing all of those games,” Carmichael said. “It’s not going to happen. That’s the first thing. Now having said that, we were in position to do a little better in some of those games and didn’t get the job done. There’s no doubt about that. And that’s where I think our emphasis has to be our 18 – goalkeeping and defending. Some of the goals we gave up, I thought were soft, from our standpoint, and preventable, and I think we need to do a better job.”
Senior Jaci Jones said the Cowgirls fought tooth and nail with some of the best Big 12 Conference schools last year, despite the high number of injuries, which gives her and her teammates hope for this fall.
“We know in our own locker room, whether other people know it or not, we know that if we stay healthy, we’ll be able to get the job done,” Jones said. “I think last year was a little bit frustrating knowing we were that close, even with the injuries that we had.”
Despite the belief in their own locker room, the Cowgirls weren’t given much respect in the preseason coaches poll. They were picked seventh, just ahead of Bedlam rival Oklahoma. OSU finished tied for eighth a year ago.
This year’s conference slate of games doesn’t begin until Sept. 26 for the Cowgirls. They want to prove they’re a better team than projected during the next month or more leading up to Big 12 games.
“I think we want to bounce back,” Morgan said. “It was definitely a hard season last season with injuries and with how we came out. I think we all do have a chip on our shoulder, especially with the preseason rankings that they came out with. The last time that happened, we ended up winning the Big 12, so I think that we’re all definitely extra motivated. We want to get out there and we want to prove who we are and we are a lot better than what they say on paper.”
The Cowgirls will be on the road for the first three games of the season. The final one of those will be a nonconference Bedlam game on Aug. 29 in Norman.
The first regular season home contest will be Sept. 1 against Oral Roberts.