Michela Ongaro’s heels were the only things touching the goal line, a save away from Oklahoma State’s first NCAA Tournament win in more than half a decade.
As Missouri State’s leading scorer, Brooke, Prondzinski, fired to the net, Ongaro dived to her right and met the kick. Seconds later, her Cowgirl teammates met her with hugs and screams. OSU walked out of the soccer complex with a 1-1 (3-2 penalty kicks) result and are onto the second round.
— Hayden Kyle Barber (@HK_Barber) November 11, 2017
“I’ve always struggled with PKs throughout the course of my career; I don’t save many,” Ongaro said. “And so I’ve worked with Justin (Elkington), our goalkeeper coach, on the run-up. If they’re running straight up, typically it says they’re going to my right, and if they take a wide left approach, they’re probably going to my left.
“That’s all I was looking at. … It’s a guess for me.”
Three minutes before Ongaro’s third and final saved penalty kick, Marcell Ateman hauled in yet another unbelievable touchdown in Ames, Iowa, to put the Cowboy football team down a point with six minutes to go. It was an amazing few minutes to be an OSU fan.
No words left for Ateman. A monster. pic.twitter.com/YM6jrCGAqY
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 11, 2017
The Cowgirls’ win was their first in the tournament since 2011, but coach Colin Carmichael (heartbeat still well into the 100s) asked reporters for an update from Ames midway through his postgame interview.
This win meant the world to Carmichael though, maybe more than anyone else. He has been the coach for more than two decades and seen supreme heights and felt devastating lows. So winning this season’s last home game in the NCAA Tournament and clinching a 10-0 home record in 2017 was meaningful with this year’s squad.
“Look, this team, I think it’s fair to say, we’ve overachieved a little bit this year at times, based on expectations coming in, and that’s a big part of it,” Carmichael said. “These kids, I’ve said it many times, they make my job enjoyable. They’ve made this experience awesome. I don’t want the season to end because I’m having a blast with these guys.”
Although the win, which will be technically ruled as a tie, earns the Cowgirls another weekend, they didn’t finish particularly well. OSU controlled possession and flow of the game, had more shots, corner kicks and created chances, but it couldn’t find the second goal it needed to put Missouri State away.
“When we didn’t get it, you leave yourself open for one moment at the other end,” Carmichael said.
One front-flipping Bearcat took full opportunity with only a few minutes left in regulation. Watch this, it’s completely insane. MSU tied the score 1-1 with an OSU own goal in the 87th minute.
— Jevin Riven (@JevinRiven) November 11, 2017
The OSU defense was absolutely flawless all game, like it has been for much of the 2017 season. Ongaro just missed the catch above, which set up her shot at redemption in the penalty kicks.
“I’ll be the first one to own that goal was on me,” Ongaro said. “My team fought so hard all game, overtime, trying to fix my mistake, and to be honest, they’ve made all season pretty easy for me. I haven’t had to do too much.
“I knew I had no other choice but to make as many saves as possible and give us a chance to win because we were in that position because of me.”
Ongaro said her teammates did the hard part in putting three penalty kicks away. Her job was “easy,” only having to “jump around and put my face in front of a ball.”
Anna Beffer, who assisted Julia Lenhardt for OSU’s early goal, stepped up first and buried her penalty with ease. Elise Hawn followed, but Coumba Sow marked the first miss, putting Missouri State in the advantage.
Then Ongaro went to work.
She saved the ensuing shot to her left. Lenhardt scored from the spot. And Ongaro saved her second thereafter.
Jaci Jones had a chance to end it with a successful penalty but hers was saved, too, setting up Ongaro’s game-winning stop and a shot at capping an illustrious OSU career. A reporter asked Ongaro what this win meant for her in her last home game as a Cowgirls, and she laughed and choked up for a second.
“One of the last (to-dos) I had left was to win an NCAA game,” Ongaro said. “This is my fourth one, and we hadn’t won it yet, so to do it in that fashion will certainly be memorable, and we’ll see if we can keep it rolling next weekend.”
OSU will get the winner of No. 1 overall seed Duke and North Carolina-Greesboro, which is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Source: Pistols Firing
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