NORMAN, Okla. -- The OU soccer team (3-1) returns home to begin a long stretch of games to be played in the friendly confines of John Crain Field.
On Friday, OU hosts Western Michigan (1-2) at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday the Sooners will entertain East Carolina at noon. Friday's contest marks the first of three consecutive games and seven of eight at home.
The Broncos started the 2005 season with a 2-0 win over Vermont on the road. Since the opener, the WMU offense has struggled in back-to-back games, suffering 1-0 shutouts vs. New Hampshire at home and at Oakland (Mich.).
Senior defender Chelsea McNally is one of two Broncos to record a goal this season. Senior forward Stephanie Johnson is the other. McNally led the team in goals last season with 10 and also shared the points lead with 15.
In the WMU goal, senior Kate Perz sports a 0.67 goals-against average with 13 saves this year. Her sister, Liz, is also a Bronco goalkeeper and a sophomore.
The Broncos return 13 letterwinners and six starters from last year’s team that finished 11-6-4 overall and 6-3-3 in Mid American Conference play, good for a fourth-place finish. Head coach Mike Haines is in his eighth year at WMU and is 67-65-11.
Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday at John Crain Field on the corner of Imhoff Road and Chautauqua Avenue. The first 250 fans will receive free OU soccer schedule magnets. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Discount rates are available for groups of 10 or more at $3 a ticket. OU students receive free admission with a valid student ID. For more information, contact the OU ticket office at 800-456-GoOU.
On Sunday, OU will battle East Carolina at noon. The Pirates (1-3) broke their three-game losing streak on Sunday with a 2-0 triumph over West Carolina.
Prior to the win, ECU lost 3-2 at UNC Wilmington in overtime, was shut out at home against Richmond (3-0) and lost the season opener, 4-2, to Loyola (Md.) in a tournament hosted by James Madison.
Sophomore forward Meghan McCallion led the team in goals scored as a freshman with 10. She currently leads the team with two goals.
Freshman goalie Amber Campbell has played every minute this season in the ECU net and has a 2.48 goals-against average with 19 saves.
East Carolina returns 12 letterwinners and six starters from last year’s squad that finished 8-9-2 and 6-3-1 in Conference USA action (fourth place). Rob Donnenwirth is 58-45-5 in his seventh year at the helm of the Pirates’ program.
Sunday is Military Appreciation Day and the gates will open at 11 a.m. at John Crain Field. The first 250 fans will receive United States flags. The contest will be followed by a post-game autograph session. Fans bringing their ticket stub from the OU vs. Tulsa football game receive $3 admission.
OU split over the weekend in the first annual Big 12/Big Ten Challenge. The Sooners suffered their first loss of 2005 on Friday at No. 16 (Soccer Buzz) Wisconsin. The Badgers’ Amy Vermeulen scored both goals, one in the 28th minute and the other, a penalty kick in the 60th minute. OU was outshot 9-4, its lowest shot total this season.
The Sooners rebounded on Sunday with a 2-0 shutout of Iowa at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Michelle Enos put OU on the board first with a volley that found the back of the net off Tenesha Duncan’s cross from the right side. Jennifer Nichols recorded her second shutout of the season and of her career with four saves in the contest. OU held a 17-8 advantage in the shots and a 54-3 edge in corner kicks.
ROAD SUCCESS CONTINUES
Dating back to last season the Sooners are 4-2 over the last six away games. The 2005 Sooners are 2-1 so far this season away from John Crain Field. In 2004, OU recorded the only winning record on the road with a 5-4 mark.
HOME SWEET HOME
After playing three of the first four games of the 2005 slate on the road, OU returns to Norman where it will play seven of its next eight at John Crain Field. The Sooners will play three straight contests (Western Michigan, East Carolina and Tulsa) at home before it plays Oral Roberts, at Oklahoma State, in the Oklahoma Shootout. After the annual in-state tournament, OU plays its next four games at home (Texas State, Texas, Texas Tech and Colorado).
MAC BACK ON TRACK
Senior captain Lauren MacIver missed the final nine games of the 2004 season with a torn ACL. On Sunday versus Iowa, the Tulsa, Okla., native got back on track with her first goal since Sept. 3, 2004 (vs. TCU). The senior is tied for second on the team in points (3).
KUCERA IS KEY
Sophomore midfielder Allyson Kucera continues to make things happen when she is on the field. After 20 career games at OU, Kucera already has six goals. The Pearland, Texas, native scored two goals in the Sooners win over Arkansas, a single-game high. Kucera’s first goal against Arkansas marked the second game-winning goal in her collegiate career. She leads the team in goals (2), points (4), shots (13) and shots on goal (9).
For the second time in the program’s ten year history, the Sooners have started off a season 3-1. OU also started 3-1 in 2001, a season that saw the program record its best overall record (11-7-1).
Although early in the season, OU has outshot the competition by a significant margin after four games (56-37). On Aug. 28 versus Arkansas, the OU defense limited the Lady’Backs to four shots, the fewest by an OU opponent since Drury fired four against the Sooners on Sept. 6, 2002. The only game that OU was not ahead of the opposition in the shot count, was the Sooners 2-0 loss to Wisconsin (9-4). In addition, the Sooners have been on target in the first four games, with a .589 percentage (33/56) for shots taken on goal.
OU will face a number of first time opponents on the 2005 slate. That trend continues this weekend with Western Michigan and East Carolina. Friday’s game marks OU’s first ever opponent from the Mid American Conference. In addition, OU will also play Texas State for the first time in the program’s ten year history.
CENTRAL REGION POLLS
This week’s central region polls have OU ranked No. 8 by the NSCAA/adidas poll and No. 15 by Soccer Buzz magazine. The Sooners were receiving votes in last week’s central region poll as released by Soccer Buzz. The initial NSCAA/adidas poll was released on Sept. 6.
Two freshmen, Katie Corbitt and Helen Ajufo, have started every game for OU this season. In addition, Traci Dickenson has seen time in all four contests. Corbitt scored her first career goal, a game winner, against Saint Louis in overtime in the season opener Ajufo and Dickenson have both seen action on defense, primarily in the left back position.
NICHOLS EARNS BIG 12 DEFENSIVE HONOR
OU sophomore goalkeeper Jennifer Nichols was named the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Week after shutting out Arkansas on Sunday and limiting Saint Louis to one goal Friday. The shutout marked the first in Nichols’ collegiate career as the sophomore made two saves in the contest. It is the first such honor for Nichols who has a 0.47 goals-against average with 12 saves on the season.
MORE ON THE ARKANSAS SERIES
Sunday’s win over Arkansas was nothing new for OU in the series between the two teams. In seven all-time meetings against the Lady’Backs, OU is a perfect 7-0, including three shutouts. The Sooners’ offense has also thrived against the Lady’Backs, outscoring them 19-4 in the seven meetings.
ENOS’ STREAK ENDS
Going into the season opener at Saint Louis, senior Michelle Enos had scored in each of the last three regular season openers for OU. That impressive streak came to an end against the Billikens. Enos was inches away from scoring against Arkansas in the homer opener, but the header deflected off the cross bar. Should that goal have found the back of the net, Enos would have scored in three straight home openers. The senior did score her first goal of the year on Sunday against Iowa. Enos has scored one goal in each of her four seasons at OU.
The Sooners are 5-4-1 in regular season openers. OU has not lost the first game of the season since 2000, when it met Tulsa and dropped a 2-0 decision. The Sooners lone tie in a regular season opener occurred last year against Saint Louis (1-1).
NELSON AND KENKEL WILL MISS 2005 SEASON
Seniors Becky Nelson and Christy Kenkel will miss the 2005 season. Both Sooners are recovering from torn ACLs. Nelson suffered her injury in the last game of 2004 against Oklahoma State and Kenkel, a 2005 captain, went down during this year’s fall practice.
The 2005 season marks the tenth year in OU soccer history. OU started women’s soccer in 1996 and is 62-88-11 since the program’s inception. The Sooners have participated in three Big 12 Tournaments (2000, 2001 and 2003) and made the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003. The Big 12 Conference is also celebrating its tenth year of existence after changing its name from the Big 8.
1 - Jennifer Nichols - Sophomore goalkeeper recorded her first shutout against Arkansas on Aug. 28 and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for the week ending Aug. 28. The Tulsa, Okla., native is 3-1 with 19 saves and a 0.73 goals-against average.
2 - Jenny Jones - Senior defender helped the OU defense blank Iowa on Sunday. Helped limit Arkansas to four shots on Aug. 28 to record the first shutout of the year. The Denton, Texas, native has started every game for OU this season.
3 - Helen Ajufo - Freshman defender has started every game for OU this season. The Southlake, Texas, native is one of two freshman (Katie Corbitt) to start all four games this season.
5 - Lauren MacIver - Senior captain scored first goal of the season against Iowa on Sunday. She assisted on OU’s third goal in the 3-0 victory over Arkansas. Was also the team captain in 2004. Is currently fourth on OU’s all-time assists (11) list and third in shots taken (175).
6 - Becky Nelson - Senior forward will miss the 2005 season, recovering from an ACL tear suffered in the 2004 Bedlam game.
7 - Andrea Hurley - Junior midfielder assisted on both of OU’s goals in the overtime win over Saint Louis on Aug. 26. Leads the team in assists..
8 - Christy Kenkel - Senior captain will miss the 2005 season after suffering a torn ACL in this year’s fall practice.
9 - Savannah Scott - Junior forward scored her first goal of the year in 3-0 victory over Arkansas. Her 11 career goals ranks seventh (tied with MacIver) all-time in OU history.
10 - Kady Kelly - Junior midfielder has started every game. Scored the game-winning goal in the Sooners’ exhibition win over Purdue.
11 - Shana All - Sophomore midfielder recorded an assist in 3-0 win over Arkansas (8/28). Started all four games this season. Her seven career assists rank seventh all-time at OU.
12 - Lauren Harris - Sophomore midfielder scored first career goal in OU’s 2-1 overtime victory against Saint Louis (8/26). The Tulsa, Okla., native has started every game for OU. She is third on the team in shots taken (9).
14 - Jayme Seetin - Sophomore midfielder has seen time in every game and has recorded two shots.
15 - Christie Smeal - Junior newcomer played in first game at OU against Arkansas (8/28).
16 - Tenesha Duncan - Sophomore forward scored first point of the season on an assist against Iowa on Sunday. She has logged five shots in two games.
18 - Allyson Kucera - Sophomore midfielder scored two goals against Arkansas (8/28). Leads the team in goals, points (4) and shots (13). Her six career goals ranks 11th in OU’s history.
19 - Colleen Keester - Sophomore midfielder has seen time in both games.
20 - Katie Corbitt - Freshman midfielder is one of two Sooner freshman to start every game this season (Helen Ajufo). Scored the game winner at Saint Louis (8/26) with 25 seconds remaining in overtime.
21 - Savannah Campbell - Freshman midfielder made first appearance as a Sooner against Arkansas on Aug. 28.
22 - Tally Ward - Freshman defender has not seen action this season due to a sore knee. Expected to see time on the OU defense this season. May see first action this weekend against Western Michigan.
25 - Michelle Enos - Senior forward scored first goal of the season at Iowa (9/4).
29 - Katherine Hergenrether - Junior midfielder has not seen time this season.
33 - Lauren King - Sophomore has seen time in two games this season. Redshirted her freshman season. Twin sister Ashley also plays for OU.
37 - Lindsey Pulat - Senior goalkeeper has not seen action this season.
44 - Traci Dickenson - Freshman defender should continue to see time after appearing in every game this season.
88 - Hollee Fink - Senior goalkeeper has not seen action this season.