STILLWATER, Oklahoma – On a rough day for OSU athletics, one team stuck out as a bit of a bright spot.
The Cowgirl soccer team advanced to its second-straight Sweet 16 with a 1-0 victory over Illinois on Friday night at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.
Oklahoma State, a No. 2 seed, matched a school record with its 21st victory of the season, with one loss and two ties.
The lone goal came from midfielder Annika Niemeier in the 25th minute.
Coach Colin Carmichael said he knew coming into the game that it was going to be tough to focus emotionally following the deaths of Cowgirl women's basketball coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna in a plane crash on Thursday.
"It was always going to be tough, and given everything that happened today it was very difficult for the girls to focus and be motivated like we normally would," Carmichael said. "But our team showed again what kind of courage they have, what kind of desire they have and how tough they can be to come out and play with the intensity they did."
Goalie AD Franch recorded her 11th shutout of the season, tying a school record that she set as a freshman in 2009.
Illinois mounted a furious attack on the OSU goal in the game's final minutes, outshooting the Cowgirls 17-13 in the game.
"(Illinois) was good – they put some nice shots on frame, and it was a great win to come out of it," Franch said. "It's always difficult when a team is coming down blazing because they have nothing to lose."
Oklahoma State will now push for its second straight Elite Eight spot with a 1 p.m. showdown against Maryland on Sunday.
The game is set for 1 p.m. at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.