Jan. 14, 2011
BALTIMORE, MD. -- Seniors Lauren Alkek and Whitney Palmer became the first Sooner soccer players to be drafted professionally at the Baltimore Convention Center on Friday.
Palmer, OU's most prolific scorer, was the first Sooner off the board as she was taken in the second round by the Boston Breakers with the 12th overall selection of the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer Draft.
"It's exciting," said Palmer. "I've learned to never give up on your dream. If you want it bad enough, and are willing to work for it, it will happen."
Two rounds later, Lauren Alkek, a four-year starter on defense, was taken with the second pick in the fourth round (21st overall) by Sky Blue FC.
"I couldn't be happier and can't wait to see what the future holds for me with Sky Blue," said Alkek.
The duo helped the Sooners make program history in 2010 as they appeared in OU's first Big 12 Championship game, only to fall in penalty kicks to No. 10 Oklahoma State. OU also went on to make the program's second appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2003 with a trip to the Portland Regional.
"We are extremely proud and excited for Whitney and Lauren," said OU Head Coach Nicole Nelson. "As I've said before, Whitney is a program changer and one of the best finishers in the country. Boston has drafted a special player.
"Lauren is the toughest player that I have ever coached. She developed into one of the best outside backs in the Big 12 Conference. With their work rate and commitment to the game, I have no doubt that they both can be successful at the next level.
Oklahoma was one of two Big 12 schools to have a player selected in the 2011 draft as Texas A&M's Allysa Mautz was selected 16th overall in the third round.
The six teams in the WPS combined to select 24 of the nation's best collegiate players on Friday and Oklahoma was tied with five other programs (Notre Dame, Portland, Virginia, UCLA and Wake Forest) for the most players taken.
"I think it's another step in the right direction for Sooner Soccer and it shows that people are recognizing our program," added Nelson. "Whitney and Lauren have grown tremendously over their time at OU and now they are presented with the opportunity to play professional soccer. I think our players will recognize their accomplishment and use it as motivation to work harder and become better players."
In December, Palmer became the first Sooner to be named an All-Region selection in two separate seasons. The National Soccer Coaches' Association of America (NSCAA) tabbed Palmer a second team member for the second straight year. The Plano, Texas, native finished her OU career as the program's all-time leading scorer with 38 goals and 83 points.
Alkek anchored the Oklahoma defense in each of the past three seasons and was a part of 19 Sooner shutouts. She finished her collegiate career as one of the most exciting defensive players to wear a Sooner uniform. Her speed and athleticism out of the backline were unmatched during her four years in Norman.