The ball didn't bounce exactly how the Colorado Buffaloes soccer team expected Saturday on a couple of first-half set pieces.
Yet it nonetheless bounced fortuitously enough for the Buffs to extend their season.
For the seventh time in the program's nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament the Buffs proved victorious in the first round, using a pair of opposing own-goals in the first half to pave the way to a 3-1 victory against Oklahoma State at Prentup Field.
The Buffs will travel next week to face South Carolina, one of the tournament's four No. 1 seeds, with the date and time still to be determined. CU improved to 15-5-1, matching the program record for wins shared by the 2003 and 2004 teams.
Both own-goals occurred in the first half, but an Oklahoma State goal early in the second half increased the pressure on CU's defense down the stretch until Danica Evans sparked the victory celebration with an exclamation-point tally with 12 seconds remaining.
It was the first time the Buffs had been the beneficiaries of two opposing own goals in one game in the program's history.
"I couldn't be more proud. It was a tough game today and Oklahoma State is a very dangerous team," CU coach Danny Sanchez said. "I thought the first half we played very well and put them on a lot of pressure. They got that goal but I was really happy with the way we responded."
The Buffs received their first goal off one of Evans' patented flip throw-ins, and while it was the head of Oklahoma State's Haley Woodard that deflected the ball into the net, the presence of CU's 6-foot-1 freshman phenom Taylor Kornieck ranging in the middle of the penalty box created a major distraction for the Cowgirls' defenders.
"There is a reason (Kornieck) has so many goals and a reason she was able to dominate in the air all throughout the season," Oklahoma State coach Colin Carmichael said. "It was more the dead-ball situations, the flip throw and the corners, that's when we knew we were going to have some issues with her."
CU extended the lead to 2-0 when a free kick from senior Mikaela Kraus at midfield was deflected into the net, again on a header, by the Cowgirls' Natalie Calhoun.
OSU pulled within a goal less than eight minutes after halftime when Courtney Dike, the co-Offensive Player of the Year in the Big 12 Conference, managed to work free along the CU endline before tucking a shot past Buffs goalie Jalen Tompkins inside the near post.
For the bulk of the remaining time Oklahoma pressed its attack in hopes of notching an equalizer, but the CU back line of Kraus, Kelsey Aaknes, Alex Vidger, and Erin Greening kept Tompkins largely stress-free the rest of the way.
Evans ended OSU hopes with her 11th goal of the season off an assist from Emily Bruder.
"Definitely we just have to keep working hard in training," Evans said. "If we take what we did today in the game working hard defensively and get chances up top and finish them, we'll have a good game (against South Carolina) just like we did today."
Colorado 3, Oklahoma State 1
At Prentup FieldOklahoma State (9-9-3) 0 1 — 1 Colorado (15-5-1) 2 3 — 3
Goals (assists) — Colorado: OSU own goal-Woodard, 18th minute; Colorado: OSU own goal-Calhoun, 37th minute; Colorado: Evans (Bruder), 90th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Oklahoma State: Ongaro (90-3-8); Colorado: Tompkins (90-1-5).