The women’s soccer team (5-2-1) fell to Oklahoma State University (7-1-1) 2-0 on the road Sunday afternoon. Facing temperatures in the upper 90s in Stillwater, Okla., the Bears battled the Cowgirls for 90 minutes but were unable to find the back of the net.
Prior to the loss, Brown had not been shut out this season, with their last shutout defeat coming against Saint John’s University in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The contest marked the conclusion of Bruno’s non-conference schedule before opening Ivy League play against Dartmouth this Saturday.
The Bears were aggressive from kickoff, putting pressure on Oklahoma State’s defense in the early minutes. Only 30 seconds into the game, forward/midfielder Sheyenne Allen ’23 dribbled past Cowgirl defenders before finding forward Miya Grant-Clavijo ’25, who fired a shot that arced over the goalkeeper’s hands but clanged off the crossbar and bounced out. A few minutes later, a long attempt by defender Jessica Hinton ’24 was handled easily by the Oklahoma State goalkeeper.
“I think there were moments during the game where we were connecting and had opportunities to finish in the first half,” wrote defender/midfielder Kayla Duran ’23 in a message to The Herald.
The two sides battled for the remainder of the half, with goalkeeper Bella Schopp ’26 making a diving stop to keep the Cowgirls off the board in the 16th minute. She went on to record five saves over the course of the game.
In the first half, the Bears managed 12 shots to Oklahoma State’s four, as well as nine corner kicks to the Cowgirls’ one. Despite the significant shooting discrepancy, Brown was unable to reach the back of the net, entering the half in a nil-nil tie.
“Our team fought hard and played well in the first half,” Head Coach Kia McNeill wrote in an email to The Herald. “It was a (back-and-forth) game in the first half and we definitely had chances from the set pieces we created to get on the scoreboard.”
Allen similarly praised the team’s early play, but noted that they were unable to keep up their early momentum. “The team came into the game very energized and that translated into the first 25 minutes of the first half, where we kept possession of the ball and had (plenty) of chances,” she wrote in a message to The Herald. “Then moments would come where we lost our footing a bit and (were) caught on our heels a bit.”
Bruno’s inability to get on the board in the first half came back to bite them, with Oklahoma State taking control of the game in the second period. In the 72nd minute, the Cowgirls opened the scoring when Olyvia Dowell got the ball off a corner kick and fired it over Schopp’s hands, putting Oklahoma State up 1-0. Dowell again scored in the 80th minute, this time off a header, giving the Cowgirls a 2-0 lead for the rest of the game. While Bruno dominated the first-half stat sheet, Oklahoma State controlled the second half, with 10 shots and eight corners. The Bears were only able to get four shots off and attempted one corner kick.
“The second half we gassed out a bit.” McNeill wrote. “The conditions in Stillwater were tough with 100-degree weather and we had a travel debacle that didn’t allow us (to) get settled in the way we wanted.” According to Duran, the team had a flight cancellation on their way to Stillwater.
But McNeill added that the team “can’t make any excuses.” “Oklahoma State was a great team and definitely the caliber opponent we were looking for to get ready for Ivy play,” she wrote.
McNeill emphasized that she was happy with the team’s overall performance throughout their non-conference schedule. “We purposely created a tough non-conference schedule against a variety of opponents who would pose different problems to our team,” she wrote. “We did a good job resolving a lot of those problems and getting the results we wanted, and obviously we still have room for growth too. That’s a good position to be in because you don’t want to peak too early.”
“I feel good about our results, and the learning moments we have had through the ups and downs,” she added. “A bit of adversity is a good thing, and what we need before Ivy play. It builds resilience.”
Duran similarly viewed the loss as a possible learning experience. “As we look forward, we need to use these losses as an opportunity to learn and grow,” she wrote. “I think we need to continue to be clinical in the final third and switched-on at all times in the defensive third.”
Looking ahead to Ivy play, Allen cited inconsistency as a concern but felt hopeful about the team’s overall direction. “For Dartmouth and Ivy play in general, in order to have success we need to put together a solid 90 minutes of soccer. There (have) been a couple of games this season where our play has been sporadic,” she wrote. “In the games where we’ve played to our potential throughout the entire match, we’ve been nothing but proud of our performance so hopefully we can improve and continue that into the Ivy season.”
Duran believes that non-conference play has demonstrated to the team “how small the margin of error is at the highest level.”
“With that being said, we need to continue to elevate our game going into Saturday vs Dartmouth,” she wrote. “Every game is a battle in the Ivy League and we need to show up and be at our best every week.”
Brown’s matchup against Dartmouth in Hanover on Saturday will begin at 7 p.m. and can be streamed live on ESPN+.