Junior center defender Courtney Cramer is a dangerous weapon in the air and leads the Cowgirls with 14 goals (13 of which have come off Kuykendall corner serves). She also leads a stingy defense that has allowed only six goals all season. She was named the American Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year and carries a 3.97 GPA.
Don’t Mind PKs
The Cowgirls have never been afraid of penalty kick situations under head coach Marcus Wood. In the NCAA Tournament the Cowgirls are now 5-1 all-time in PKs. Then a freshman, Christi Carr claimed all-American honors after a pair of PK wins in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. She also added a PK win over Trinity the next year. In 2008, the Cowgirls lost in PKs to Claremont Mudd Scripps. HSU beat Otterbein in PKs behind a pair of saves from first-year starter Rebecca Roth in the 2010 national semifinals. Lexi Stinson added a win last weekend against Trinity in PKs to continue the tradition of first-year starters having success in PKs.
Making The Most Of It
Junior Devon Howard has been an impact player since stepping on campus, but unfortunately for her was injured during the conference tournament of her freshman year. She missed the entire postseason in the magical 2010 run. However she has made up for it in the past two postseasons. Howard has scored a goal in three of the four NCAA games over the last two years. She has had to help take up some of the scoring slack the Cowgirls are missing with veteran forwards Jessica Stuckey and Vivian Wells out for the season with injuries. For the year she has 10 goals and 17 assists.
Sophomore Shannon Byrd has been a force for the Cowgirls in the midfield, consistently winning 50-50 balls at a high rate. She got a late start to the season coming in after offseason ankle surgery.
Backline Gets It Done
The Cowgirls have one of the top defensive backlines in the country and it is led by two outside backs that have great speed and the Cramer twins in the middle. Christina Hartsfield and Julianne Kucera both have great speed and are not afraid to initiate the attack after winning battles in the back and Courtney and Caitlin Cramer are great athletes.
Sophomore Katie Haltiwanger has been clutch for the Cowgirls this season off the bench. She had the equalizing goal in the game against Trinity on Sunday and also had the game-winner against Texas-Tyler in overtime.
Junior Taylor Thigpen has been a strong scorer for the Cowgirls throughout her career with 35 career goals and 32 assists. She seems to thrive in the big games as she had a hat-trick in the ASC Championship game to earn tournament MVP honors and also had the only goal in the win over Chapman. She has nine goals and six assists on the season.
Courtney Cramer was named the ASC Defensive Player of the Year and Katie Kuykendall was named the Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. All seven players the Cowgirls were eligible to nominate for the all-conference team were named to the first team. Kuykendall and Cramer were joined by Devon Howard, Shannon Byrd, Julianne Kucera, Taylor Thigpen and Lexi Stinson. Christina Hartsfield was named the sportsmanship athlete of the year.
The Cowgirls have outscored their opponents 88-6 on the year...The Cowgirls have a 0.29 goals against average and starter Lexi Stinson has a 0.32 GAA in almost 1400 minutes in goal...HSU has six players on the team with 15 or more career goals -- Katie Kuykendall (46), Taylor Thigpen (35), Devon Howard (25), Courtney Cramer (24) Austin Ricker (20) and Kati McCarty (15)...The Cowgirls are ranked No. 2 in both national polls heading into the postseason.