The women’s soccer team (3-1) defeated the Oklahoma State University Cowgirls (3-2) in a highly-contested match at Stevenson-Pincince Field Sunday morning. The victory over a Cowgirls team that advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament last year was a coup for the Bears, who have now won their last three games following a season-opening loss to Hofstra University. Goalkeeper Kayla Thompson ’22 recorded five saves, and midfielder Rebecca Rosen ’22 and forward Ava Seelenfreud ’23 each scored goals.
The game was an intense contest between the two talented teams from start to finish. The Cowgirls had the clear advantage in corner kicks (10 vs. the Bears’ four), but the Bears compensated with their advantages in shots on goal (11 vs. Oklahoma State’s nine) and saves (Thompson’s five vs. three from the Cowgirls’ Evie Vitali).
It seemed as though the Bears had struck early with a goal off a free kick in the opening minutes of the game, but the score was nullified by an offsides call. The first goal of the game came in the 27th minute on an unassisted 30-yard rocket of a shot by Oklahoma State’s Mollie Breiner, giving the Cowgirls a 1-0 lead. Brown responded quickly and aggressively, nearly scoring on multiple occasions. The Bears finally got on the board in the 42nd minute, tying the game at one a piece when Rosen headed in a free kick from midfielder Kayla Duran ’22, who was credited with an assist. The goal was Rosen’s first of the season. The two teams continued to battle it out well into the second half without additional scores, with a huge part of Brown’s defense coming from Thompson’s stellar play, who made multiple difficult saves.
The Bears finally took the lead in the 77th minute with a goal by Seelenfreud, her second goal of the season. Defender Lexi Quinn ’25 and midfielder/forward Zoe Maxwell ’22 were each credited with an assist on the play. Oklahoma State made a strong effort to tie the game back up, sending as many as 10 players on the attack, but the Brown defense held on to secure the victory.
The Bears were unfazed by their early deficit and offsides call, said forward/midfielder Sheyenne Allen ’23. “We really did well with our possession and dominating (in) the game,” Allen said. “Regardless of (The Cowgirls) scoring first, we were most definitely the better team and we didn’t let their status as a Big 12 school scare us.”
Rosen echoed that sentiment. “We took a second to reset, came in as a team and worked to our strengths” after the Oklahoma State goal, she said. While the team was proud of the victory, they acknowledged that their play was not perfect.
“One thing we could have improved upon was creating more run of play offensive opportunities,” Allen said. “There were many times where we passed and could’ve dribbled to open up other players.” Overall, the team’s reaction was extremely positive. “This was a great game for us and once we do a bit of fine-tuning, we can have even better games in the future,” Allen added. “We are definitely a force to be reckoned with and this win absolutely proved that.”
The victory reflected the team’s upward trajectory, according to Head Coach Kia McNeill. “For us, we’re just trying to get better and better every game, and (over) our last three games you can see us incrementally getting better,” McNeill said. “This was a good test (Sunday), and I think it just showed our team that we should have the confidence that we can play with anyone.”
For Rosen, the game reinforced that the Bears have become a team to be reckoned with. “This win means a lot. We’ve gotten better and better each game. We know the quality of our game. We know that we’re (at) the top of Division I, and this just goes to prove it,” she said. “Everyone (stepped) up and (fulfilled) their role and we came out with the win today.”
The Bears have a tough road ahead, with their upcoming three games against the University of Connecticut, the University of Notre Dame and Providence College. But the team’s spirits are high after the victory, according to McNeill. “Any time you get a win against a top team like that you boost your confidence,” she said. “We need to get some rest these next couple of days and just get ready for UConn on Thursday.”
Rosen agreed that the team is ready for whatever challenges lie ahead. “We’re just gonna ride the momentum,” she said. “We’ve got a couple big games coming up, and we’ll just keep executing (and) keep finishing leading into the Ivy season.”
For now, the team is enjoying their massive victory against an opponent that entered the year ranked in the top 25 nationally. “Our team is incredible. We can play with anybody,” McNeill said. “I’ve known that from the beginning, but I told my team, ‘I can’t have more belief in you than you have in yourselves,’ and I think today they showed the belief in themselves.”
Peter Swope is the senior editor of digital engagement for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board. He previously served as a Sports section editor and has also written stories for University News. Peter is a junior from New Jersey studying history.