The Norman Transcript

August 31, 2013

Sooners strike first but Cowgirls run away with victory

By Nick Snow
The Norman Transcript

STILLWATER — 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 has 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 the 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 quickly turned things around for the Cowgirls. 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.

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.”