NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Sooners (7-10-1 overall, 3-6-1 Big 12) take the field this week looking to end the 2006 regular season on a high note before preparing for the Big 12 Championship on Nov. 1-5 in San Antonio.
On Thursday, the Sooners will host Missouri State (9-7-2) in the season finale at 7 p.m. The Bears are the second Missouri Valley Conference team the Sooners have faced this season. OU defeated Northern Iowa on Friday, 5-0.
FOLLOW LIVE ACTION
Live Stats for Thursday’s games can be tracked on SoonerSports.com. In addition, Sunday’s game can be seen live on the O-Zone, SoonerSports.com’s premium web site.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
Thursday’s contest will mark the second meeting between Oklahoma and Missouri State. The two met during the 2001 season in Norman when the school was know as Southwest Missouri State. The Sooners won that game 1-0.
The Bears enter Thursday's game after falling 2-1 at Illinois State on Sunday. Missouri State began the season with an impressive 7-2-1 mark, but is 2-5-1 since.
The Sooners are not the first Big 12 foe the Bears have faced this year. On Aug. 27, Missouri State lost 2-1 to Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jackie Jasper (9-7-2) has started every game in the Bears’ goal this season and owns a 1.12 goal-against average. In 18 games, she has posted five shutouts and made 89 saves. Additionally, Jasper and the Bears have played in six overtime games this season and are 3-1-2 in those contests.
Offensively, sophomore Caroline Sweeney leads the squad with nine goals and 20 points.
The Bears return nine starters from last year’s team that finished 9-4-5 overall and 3-1-2 in the MVC (third place).
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Gates will open one hour before each game at John Crain Field on the corner of Imhoff Road and Chautauqua Avenue. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children (K-12). OU students receive free admission with a valid student ID. For more information, including information on group rates, contact the OU ticket office at 800-456-GoOU.
Friday’s game marks “Fan Appreciation Night” and will be followed by a post-game fireworks show.
The top eight teams in the conference standings qualify for the Big 12 Championship which begins on Nov. 1 in San Antonio at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
The Sooners qualified for the postseason for the fifth time in the program’s history after Texas eliminated Iowa State with a 4-1 win on Sunday.
After its game with Missouri State, Oklahoma will have five days to prepare for its first round game.
OU can finish as high as seventh in the conference and face Oklahoma State in the first round on Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. if Baylor loses or ties at Texas Tech on Friday. Should the Bears find a victory in Lubbock, the Sooners will claim the eighth seed and face Texas A&M in the first game of the day (11 a.m.).
Below is a complete look at the Big 12 standings this week's schedule around the conference:
Wed., Oct. 25
Loyola Chicago at Nebraska - 3 p.m.
Thu., Oct. 26
Missouri State at Oklahoma - 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 27
Colorado at Kansas - 3 p.m.
Baylor at Texas Tech - 7 p.m.
Missouri at Iowa State - 7:00 p.m.
Texas A&M at Texas - 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 28
Oklahoma State at Murray State - 1:00 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sooners netted a season-high five goals on Friday against Northern Iowa at John Crain Field. The game also marked senior night and saw three of the four seniors tally goals. On Sunday, OU suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 finale. Despite the loss, the Sooners qualified for their fifth appearance in the Big 12 Championship after Texas eliminated Iowa State on Sunday.
THE LAST SEVEN GAMES
Since suffering three consecutive losses, OU has rebounded to post a 4-2-1 mark. The Sooners’ current success can be attributed to the offense which has scored 17 of the team’s 28 goals this season in the last seven contests. Twelve different Sooners have recorded points in that span (eight goal scorers) and as a team, OU is averaging 13.7 shots and 4.7 corner kicks during the last seven games (5.09 shots and 4.18 corner kicks in the first 11 games of the season).
Below is a look at the Sooners’ offense in the last seven games compared to the first 11 games of the year.
On Oct. 20, OU posted a season-high five goals against Northern Iowa. The game marked the first five-goal game for the Sooners since Sept. 4, 2004 (W, 5-0 vs. TCU). Additionally, Friday’s offensive surge marked the 31st time in the Randy Evans’ era that the Sooners scored three or more goals in a game. In those contests, OU is undefeated at 30-0-1 with the only blemish coming in a 3-3 tie against Texas earlier this year.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
The Sooners will make their fifth appearance in the Big 12 Championship next week (all in the Evans’ era). OU is 1-4 in the conference’s postseason tournament and has lost four consecutive games since winning its debut over Texas in 2000. Below is a look at the Sooners’ history in the Big 12 Championship:
EVANS INDUCTED INTO MARYVILLE HALL OF FAME
On Friday, Oct. 13, Oklahoma head coach Randy Evans was one of six individuals inducted into Maryville College’s Wall of Fame (Tenn.). Evans, a soccer standout, led the nation in scoring with 28 goals in 1989. Evans graduated cum laude from Maryville College in 1991 with a degree in business.
On the night of his induction, Evans won his 70th career game as Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech in Lubbock.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES
Besides the trip to Hawai’i that saw OU play on Saturday and Monday, the squad has played each game since on either Friday or Sunday. The Sooners have fared better during the Sunday games compared to the Friday night contests. The Oct. 6 win over Missouri was the first of the season for the Sooners on a Friday. After starting the season 0-5 on Fridays, OU has won three straight on that day. Below is a look at that comparison:
SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
The Sooners have held opponents to one goal or less in 10 games this season, including six shutouts, which ranks fifth in the Big 12. Jennifer Nichols has recorded all six of the team’s shutouts and ranks second in the Big 12 individually. In the last two seasons, Nichols and the Sooners have held opponents to one goal or less on 23 occasions, including 13 shutouts.
NATIONAL TELEVISION APPEARANCES
For the second time in the program’s 11-year history, the Oklahoma soccer team was seen live on national television, as aired by ESPNU on Sunday, Oct. 1. The Sooners tied then-No. 10 Texas to improve to 0-1-1 when appearing on television. The Sooners made their national television debut last year in Lincoln, Neb. College Sports Television (CSTV) aired the Oct. 21 contest that saw Nebraska edge Oklahoma 2-1.
HOME SWEET HOME
Oklahoma, who traditionally is tough to beat at home, is 6-5 this season but can record the third highest win total for a home sesaon with the regular season finale on Thursday. Last year, OU enjoyed its best record at John Crain Field with a 9-1 mark, besting the 8-1-1 mark established in 2001. OU is 52-31-7 lifetime at home, including a 29-12-4 mark over the last five seasons.
The Sooners have struggled with first-time opponents this season. OU has faced five teams in 2006 for the first time during regular or postseason play (Washington, Hawai’i, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Northern Iowa) and recorded a 2-4 record against them (topped Michigan State and Northern Iowa).
EVANS VS. NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
The Sooners are 4-4 this year against teams outside of the Big 12 and have Missouri State remaining. In 2005, OU posted its best non-conference record (8-1, .889 winning percentage) in program history. The last time OU had a losing non-conference record during a season was in 1999, current head coach Randy Evans’ first year. Evans, now in his eighth season at OU, is 42-20-5 (.664) against non-conference opponents.
The Sooners have faced seven teams so far this season that advanced to last year’s NCAA Tournament. OU is 2-4-1 in those games with a win over Iowa State, Michigan State and losses to Colorado, Purdue, Texas A&M and Nebraska (tied Texas).
Against Stephen F. Austin and Oral Roberts, the Sooners combined to record 55 shots. Included in that stat is the 32 shots fired against the Golden Eagles on Sept. 17. That mark is the fourth highest total in school history behind the following totals:
52 vs. LSU (2-2) on Oct. 3, 1999
40 vs. Drury (8-1) on Sept. 1, 1997
36 vs. Southeast Louisiana (5-0) on Sept. 22, 2001
Kady Kelly’s goal scored with 26 seconds off the clock in the first half on Sunday against Stephen F. Austin was the second fastest goal scored in OU history and just the third scored in the first minute of a game by a Sooner. Below is a look at the top ten fastest goals in OU history:
00:21 Sept. 6, 2002 - Shannon Wing at Drury
00:26 Sept. 10, 2006 - Kady Kelly vs. Stephen F. Austin
00:54 Aug. 29, 2004 - Allyson Kucera vs. SMU
2:24 Sept. 3, 2000 - Jonette Coquat vs. Colorado College
2:52 Aug. 27, 2000 - Jonette Coquat vs. Oral Roberts
2:55 Sept. 4, 2001 - Logan Womack vs. Oral Roberts
3:05 Oct. 4, 2002 - Krissy Dawson vs. TCU
4:38 Sept. 30, 2001 - Logan Womack at Missouri
4:45 Sept. 9, 1998 - Megan Olsen at Stephen F. Austin
5:02 Oct. 1, 1999 - Heather Martinelli vs. Colorado
HABIBI EARNS BIG 12 NEWCOMER AWARD
Junior midfielder/forward Audrey Habibi became the second player in OU history to receive the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Week award on Tuesday, Oct. 10 (Lauren MacIver Oct. 1, 2002). She is the second Sooner to receive a Big 12 weekly honor this year (Jennifer Nichols - Defense - Sept. 12). Against Iowa State and Missouri, Habibi, who played two years at Central Oklahoma, made her first and second career starts. On Friday against Missouri, Habibi scored her second career goal and recorded her first career assist on the Sooners’ game-winning goal. Two days later, Habibi followed the performance with two assists against Iowa State on Sunday. The two-assist game against the Cyclones tied a school record. Habibi is the second player to accomplish the feat this season (Kady Kelly) and 11th in OU history.
OU TABBED SIXTH IN BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Oklahoma was picked to finish in sixth place in the Big 12 Conference, according to the preseason coaches poll. Texas A&M was picked to win the 2006 Big 12 after receiving seven of 11 first place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team or players) and totaled 97 points. Nebraska was chosen second with two first place votes and 83 points. Texas was a close third with two first place votes and 82 points. OU trailed Colorado and Kansas at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, and was picked to finish ahead of Oklahoma State, Missouri, Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech.
OU SOCCER COMPLEX RENOVATIONS
The OU Athletics Department completed Phase II of the OU Soccer Complex, a $4.5 million renovation. The addition of a state-of-the-art press box and grandstand, which increases seating capacity to 3,500, is joined by a multi-use building located between the soccer complex and the Headington Family Tennis Center. The OU soccer and tennis clubhouse features a training room, locker rooms, video and conference rooms, team facilities, and equipment, laundry and other support services. The press box is equipped with camera decks and a media level complete with the latest technologies. The attractive conference room/meeting area serves as a versatile location for team meetings and activities, and will be used to hots parents, donors and media.
MACIVER JOINS COACHING STAFF
Lauren MacIver joined the OU coaching staff in August for the 2006 season as a student assistant. MacIver (2002-2005) finished her playing career as the program’s all-time assists leader with 18. A senior captain last season, she led all Sooners in 2005 with eight goals and eight assists (single season record) en route to being named to the NSCAA and Soccer Buzz All-District Second Teams. MacIver’s senior year also produced First Team All-Big 12 honors, marking the second time in school history that a Sooner held that distinction in soccer.