On Sunday afternoon, local soccer fans have one final chance to watch some of the best amateur women’s soccer players in the country.
And it all happens right in their backyard.
Well, more specifically, at the newly built Neal Patterson Stadium on Oklahoma State’s campus. The new home of Cowgirl soccer, which opened 11 months ago but wasn’t finished, is the host site for the Women’s Premier League Soccer championship.
It will take place at noon Sunday. Pensacola FC and Utah Royals FC Reserves will battle for the title at one of the newest and nicest collegiate stadiums in the country.
“It certainly was not the reason, but it would be nice to host events like this,” OSU women’s soccer assistant coach Karen Hancock said Saturday morning. “This event in particular, because of when it falls on the calendar, it really is not difficult for us to host. It causes us no problems. It does OSU no harm, which would be the first thing to look at. We are bringing some of the most talented college-age players in on this event. Watching those games last night – that was a lot of fun. … From our perspective, we want people to come to Stillwater, America, to see what we have here.
“The hard work that Coach (Mike) Holder and Neal Patterson put in to building this wonderful facility – we want exposure and we want people to come and see what we have here for a women’s soccer only facility. That’s something that not many places in the United States have, and certainly people outside of our state or region don’t know much or anything about Oklahoma or Stillwater in particular. I think there are a lot of preconceived notions out there that are incorrect. It was a thrill yesterday to see these teams and coaches come in, get on that stadium field and just look around in awe of what we have built here in Stillwater.”
The championship semifinals were held Friday night in Stillwater. The first game ended with a 3-2 victory for Pensacola FC. The nightcap went through a pair of overtimes before ultimately ending in a penalty kick shootout.
Hancock thoroughly enjoyed the competition, watching some of the best amateur women’s soccer players in the country. Many will be playing on their respective college rosters this fall, while some have graduated college. A few have yet to begin their collegiate careers.
Hancock, who played collegiately at the University of Tulsa before becoming the first-ever OSU soccer coach in 1996, understands the importance of hosting this weekend’s event.
“I’m so thrilled to get these young women on our campus,” Hancock said. “One, to see what we have, because I know this will pay dividends for us on down the road. One of these kids could enter the transfer portal and know something about soccer in Stillwater that they would not have known otherwise.”
She added there are no other plans to host events like this right now, but she hopes OSU is able to showcase its $20 million facility.
Hancock said the WPSL, whose headquarters are in Oklahoma City, came to OSU to see if it wanted to host this year’s championships. WPSL Sean Jones is an OSU graduate and his daughter, Jaci, is entering her final year as a Cowgirl soccer player, so the connection was already established.
“He’s a huge soccer guy and is very involved in soccer,” Hancock said. “He has a real passion for women’s soccer and helping young women. That’s were our connection lied. He brought forth a proposal, but we didn’t have to follow through with it. Coach Holder could have said no thank you, but instead we said yes and let’s see how it goes. I thought last night was fantastic.”
The Cowgirls are not completely moved into Patterson Stadium, but they hope to be soon. They will host Tulsa at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 to kick off the 2019 season.
“It’s been a lengthy process,” Hancock said. “It’s worth the wait. It’s just unbelievable what we have. It’s such a source of pride for everybody here. There’s just nothing else like it in the country, I don’t think, not for women’s college soccer.”