SAN ANTONIO -- Oklahoma State defender Carson Michalowski headed in a corner kick from Colleen Dougherty in the 53rd minute, and it was all the offense the Cowgirls would need to win the Big 12 Conference Soccer Championship with a 1-0 victory over Texas A&M on Sunday.
The fifth-seeded Cowgirls (15-7-0, 8-5-0) earned the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, which starts Friday. The second-seeded Aggies (14-6-2, 8-3-2) will learn their fate Monday when the selections are announced at 7 p.m. Texas A&M entered the Big 12 tournament ranked 20th nationally.
It's the first time the Cowgirls have won the Big 12 tournament since 2003. The Aggies won in in 2004 and '05 and were the runnerup in '07.
It was Michalowski's third goal of the year and second in the last four matches.
But the talk afterward -- from both sides -- was Cowgirls freshman goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. She has overcome a serious right knee injury last year while finishing up her high-school career in Salina, Kansas, to record her school record 10th shutout of the season.
She had seven saves on 12 shots by A&M, including six stops in the second half.
"It was intense," Franch said. "What would you expect in a championship game? Our defense did well holding them. I give my defense props."
One of her defenders, sophomore Melinda Mercado, was named Most Valuable Defensive Player for the tournament. A&M's Rachel Shipley, who had four shots in the final game after scoring two goals in the previous two rounds, was named Most Valuable Offensive Player.
A&M coach G. Guerrieri said his team usually can win if it gets at least eight shots on goal. A&M had seven for the game, but six in the second half.
"I think their goalkeeper was great," Guerrieri said. "They made big-time saves.
"And we have to play for 90 minutes. I think we played for 40. Oklahoma State did a great job of battling and scraping to keep us off the scoreboard."
Oklahoma State controlled the tempo early, because A&M did not get much offense generated before halftime. The Aggies, who had outshot their opponents by a 22-10 margin in all games this year, were outshot 6-3 by the Cowgirls in the first half.
"I thought we were real unlucky not to be up one or two goals at halftime," OSU coach Colin Carmichael said. "And we were fortunate that it didn't come back to bite us.
"You're not going to keep a good team like A&M from getting opportunities. But AD (Franch) makes coaches look good, doesn't she?"
The only shot by the Aggies that made it to the goal before halftime was a try by Chelsea Jones that Franch handled easily in the 32nd minute.
But she stopped at least three tough ones in the second half, including two from in front of her by A&M forward Nora Skelton and another one that crossed from the right side by Whitney Hooper. Skelton led A&M with three shots on goal -- as much as the Cowgirls were able to muster the entire match.
GK Adrianna Franch, Oklahoma State
D Emily Peterson, Texas A&M
D Melinda Mercado, Oklahoma State
D Mary Grace Schmidt, Texas A&M
MF Annika Niemeier, Oklahoma State
MF Rachel Shipley, Texas A&M
MF Sophie Campise, Texas
F Kristin Andrighetto, Missouri
F Kasey Langdon, Oklahoma State
F Whitney Hooper, Texas A&M
F Siera Stawser, Oklahoma State
Offensive Most Valuable Player
Rachel Shipley, Texas A&M
Defensive Most Valuable Player
Melinda Mercado, Oklahoma State