Aug. 12, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. -- The 2009 Sooner soccer team began team practices last week and will play its only exhibition game of the preseason on Friday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. against Arkansas at the OU Soccer Complex.
In preparation for the 2009 season, SoonerSports.com will provide fans with a two-part season preview.
The second and final installment, which focuses on each position, can be found below.
Click the links to the right to access part I of the preview and a Q&A session with Coach Nelson as she talks about the returning starters in 2009, the successful spring season, and this year's freshmen.
Stay tuned on Thursday for a preview of Friday's exhibition game and a recap of the first two weeks of preseason practice.
2009 SEASON PREVIEW - PART II
Key Returner: Lisa Jett (RS-So.) - The UCLA transfer made 12 starts last season for the Sooners and gives OU collegiate experience in the net.
Key Newcomer: Kelsey Devonshire (RS-Fr.) - One of several newcomers expected to give OU more depth and make an immediate impact. Devonshire is extremely athletic and has a calming presence that the coaches say instills confidence in her teammates.
Nelson on keepers: "At the collegiate level, the best goalies are an extension of the back line and are good dealing with service, have a fearless mentality, are good with their feet and obviously have good shot-stopping ability. Goalkeepers are unique because their mistakes generally don’t go unnoticed, so their confidence has to be exceptional.”
Key Returner (s): Lauren Alkek (Jr.), Ashley Bolden (Jr.) & Michelle Alexander (So.) -
The trio provides OU with an athletically gifted combination on the back line that will be crucial to success in 2009.
Key Newcomer (s): Leslie Shurtleff (Fr.) & Brianna Turang (Fr.) - Turang and Shurtleff
set foot on campus with high expectations. The freshmen will provide depth for years to come at Oklahoma. Turang has the potential to make a similar impact to Michelle Alexander in 2008.
Nelson on defense: "One key for us this year on defense is that we now return experience. They are not only experienced defenders, but experienced players. Some may be new to the position, but they played there all spring and will serve as a crucial piece to our success this year. The organization of our back line will be much better than last year. The defenders will have to be good one-versus-one and have a sound tactical understanding of the game. They will play major role in our style of play where attacking possession will be the focus.”
Key Returner (s): Sage Coralli (Jr.), Tiana Dickson (Jr.) & Jordan White (So.) -
The trio comes from competitive backgrounds in their clubs and knows how to win and has experience in systems similar to OU’s.
Key Newcomer (s): Dria Hampton (Fr.) - The freshman is expected to make an immediate impact as one of the nation’s top recruits. She has the ability to play a final ball better than most players in her age group and is extremely creative and skilled on the ball.
Nelson on midfield: “The key for our midfielders will be making a quick transition from defense to offense. The players mentioned understand that we are a possession-oriented team and have the ability to make plays for us. Tiana, Sage and Jordan bring a lot of collegiate experience to the midfield while Dria has a tactical knowledge that is unique for a player her age. Dria is a threat with her play-making ability and has recently improved her ability to score from outside the 18.”
Key Returner (s): Ashley Farrand (Sr.), Whitney Palmer (Jr.) & Kelsey Kraft (So.) - All three players help give OU a balance in the forward position with speed, power and height. Palmer proved to be one of the best finishers in the Big 12 last season and has improved tactically after a successful summer in the WPSL.
Key Newcomer (s): Jessica Johnson (Fr.) - The freshman is very athletic and gives OU another target forward with good height like Farrand and Kraft.
Nelson on forwards: "Our attack is going to be a lot more balanced, specifically with our forwards. We have balance in speed and power to get behind defenses. That kind of athleticism is not something you can teach. It’s also very hard for the opposition to defend. Success at this position is obvious - score goals. “