As a defender, if you end up in a 1-v-1 with Oklahoma State star Gabriella Coleman, chances are that you’re losing that exchange. The Cowgirl senior striker is tough to stop and motivated to do damage down the stretch this season.
Gabriella Coleman began her college career at Mississippi State, where she spent two seasons. She scored three goals and added five assists for the Bulldogs and helped lead them to the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Describing it as a really cool experience, Coleman said, “I was like ‘wow, I just made history with this team’. That made me so excited that I got to be a part of that and contribute and help the team make it to the NCAA Tournament.”
Then, she made the move from MSU to OSU. Gabriella includes the atmosphere, the fans, and the town of Stillwater as some of the key factors in choosing Oklahoma State. She also added that the coaching staff made OSU feel like home and that it actually isn’t too far from home, which helped her decision.
In 2019, her first season in Stillwater, Coleman scored a goal in each of the team’s last three regular season matches and added another in their second NCAA Tournament match. She continued that form with a goal in the first three matches of 2020. She gives a lot of credit to her teammates and the formation that they play in for her goalscoring run. Also, Gabriella explained, “I set a goal for this year. I said that I was going to get more goals than I got last season.” Coleman acknowledged that the implications of COVID-19 on the season may make that impossible, but that she would be pleased if she made a good effort towards it.
Coleman listed being her speed, being able to shoot from weird angles, and the ability to turn defenders very easily as her top three traits as a striker. “I started doing that when I was in like eighth grade, so it took me some time, but I knew like, I’m going to be really good at this,” she said about turning defenders. “This is going to be one of my strengths playing up top.” As you can see in the highlights from 2019 below, Coleman’s combination of those three top traits makes her difficult to stop and leads to some defenders looking foolish.
Most people think we call her G for Gabriella, but really it’s for Goals @GabriellaCol8 had 9⃣ of them last season, and there’s just 9⃣ days until she gets a chance for more#OneMore #GoPokes #okstate pic.twitter.com/1C2fn74qFL
— OSU Cowgirl Soccer (@CowgirlFC) September 2, 2020
At Mississippi State, she wasn’t always a striker. She played some outside-back and that is a big reason why, in addition to Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn is one of her favorite forwards to watch. Like Dunn, Coleman has the talent, soccer IQ, and athletic ability to change the game at any moment on the pitch.
If you’re wondering where Gabriella might get her natural athletic ability from, look no further than her last name and the #42. Gabriella’s father, Marcus Coleman, wore #42 for the majority of his 11-year NFL career as a defensive back, which included more than 500 tackles and 25 interceptions, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. While she decided to wear #42 when she was younger in honor of her dad, the elder Coleman let her know that it’s her number now, not his.
Marcus played for the Jets, Texans, and Cowboys across career and Gabriella said she’s a big NFL fan overall because of him and they talk about different teams and players. She’s also able to talk to him about her life as a college athlete and he’s there to give advice on different aspects of that.
In addition to her dad’s wealth of knowledge and experience, she also has her step-father, Lee, who played college baseball at Virginia Tech, to offer assistance. Gabriella explained that Lee came into her life when she was in eighth grade and made the effort to get to know the sport that was important to her. Now, he’s able to provide pointers after matches, too.
Starting tonight vs. #10 Kansas (live on ESPN+), Gabriella and #8 Oklahoma State have some big matchups to close out the season, including a Bedlam Series showdown with Oklahoma in the finale. “I’m super excited,” Coleman said about this final stretch. “I’m ready to play in these last matches.”