The Oklahoma State Cowgirl soccer team recorded its 18th shutout of the season with a 1-0 win over Maryland Sunday afternoon.
"It's a great feeling," OSU head coach Colin Carmichael said. "It was a tremendous game. Maryland plays in the ACC, which is undoubtedly this year from top-to-bottom the strongest conference so they play a lot of good competition. They're a good team, great in possession. We wanted to contain them a little bit and not allow them as many looks at goal, which I thought we did well."
The second-seeded Cowgirls are 22-1-2 on the season and will next face No. 1 overall national seed Stanford Friday at 9 p.m. in Stanford, Calif. The Cardinal are the lone unbeaten team in the NCAA this season with a 22-0-1 record.
OSU becomes just the second team in Big 12 Conference history to make back-to-back NCAA Elite Eight appearances, joining Texas A&M, who achieved the feat in 2001 and 2002.
For the second consecutive game, Annika Niemeier scored OSU only goal which came just 3:56 into the match. Niemeier took a pass from Colleen Dougherty, turned on her defender and sent a shot to the far post past Maryland goalie Yewande Balogun.
"I just gave it a shot," said Niemeier, who has four goals this season, all of them coming in the NCAA Tournament. "I actually didn't expect it to go in because it was going through all the legs on the back post, and the goalie didn't even do anything. I didn't think it was going in, but it did."
Maryland (12-6-4) looked poised for the equalizer less than two minutes later after Danielle Hubka was fouled in the box and the Terrapins were awarded a penalty kick.
OSU goalie AD Franch came up huge, diving to her right to save the penalty kick of Ashley Grove and keep the Terps off the scoreboard
"It comes with practice and seeing different types of PKs and just hanging in there for your team," said Franch of the clutch save. "I just had to read and react, and you just do whatever you can in the moment."
"I was not surprised (Franch) saved it," added Carmichael. "Most penalties are probably 90-10 score, but with her it's 50-50. We see that in practice all the time."
With the momentum in their favor following the score and Franch's save, the Cowgirls nearly added a second goal late in the half.
OSU outshot UM 17-12 and Franch set a school record with her 12th shutout of the season, beating her precious record of 11 set during her freshman year in 2009.
"We'll play Stanford and it'll be another tough game, but it'll be a game we'll expect to win, at least have a chance to win if we play well," said Carmichael.
"The sky is the limit for these guys. We know next weekend will be a 50-50 game. That shows. They were excited, but it isn't as if we've accomplished something this season," added Charmichael. "We'll look back on this, win or lose next weekend, and it'll be a great season. But for these guys, Final Four and the national championship is what we really want."