STILLWATER – For the first time in six years, Oklahoma State advanced to the second round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship as the Cowgirls won a penalty kick shootout following a 1-1 tie against Missouri State in an opening-round match Saturday at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex.
OSU won the shootout, 3-2, as goalkeeper Michela Ongaro saved the final three attempts by the Bears to send the Cowgirls to round two for the first time since 2011. OSU had lost its last three NCAA first-round games, those coming in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
The Cowgirls are now 16-3-3 on the season and finished 2017 unbeaten on their home field at 9-0-1. OSU will face the winner of Duke-UNC-Greensboro in an NCAA second-round match Friday at an away site to be determined.
OSU took an early lead in the match on a goal by Julia Lenhardt in the ninth minute. On a double assist from Anna Beffer and Jaci Jones, the sophomore midfielder drilled a shot that deflected off a Missouri State defender and into the net to put the Cowgirls up, 1-0. The goal was Lenhardt's third of the season, while Beffer tallied her 13th assist and Jones her sixth.
The 1-0 lead would hold for the next 78 minutes. However, with just 3:04 remaining in regulation, the Bears would record the equalizer.
On a flip throw-in, Kassie Flynn launched a long ball into the box that deflected off Ongaro's hands and over the line for a goal to tie the score at 1-1.
Forced to go to overtime, OSU could not manage much offensively in the extra periods as the Bears recorded both shots during the extra time.
The scoreless overtime set up a penalty kick shootout to determine which team would advance. Both teams buried their first two attempts, with Beffer and Elise Hawn finding the next for the Cowgirls.
Up next, Coumba Sow's attempt was stopped by MSU goalie Lexi Palacio, but Ongaro answered with a save of her own to make the score 2-2 after three attempts for each squad.
Lenhardt took the next attempt, and her shot found the mark to put OSU up, 3-2. That would prove to be the difference as Ongaro knocked away consecutive shots by Jacqueline Baetz and Brooke Prondzinski to set off the Cowgirl celebration.
OSU finished the match with a 12-8 advantage in shots while owning a 3-2 edge in corner kicks as Missouri State ended its season with a 10-9-2 record.