Aug. 24, 1999

THIS WEEKEND
*Oklahoma at Texas
Friday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m., CDT
*Oklahoma at Texas A&M
Sunday, Aug. 29, 1 p.m., CDT

SOONERS OPEN REGULAR SEASON WITH A PAIR OF BIG 12 GAMES
The OU women's soccer team will play its first two games of the regular season in Texas this weekend. The Sooners will play Texas and Texas A&M on Friday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 29, respectively. OU looks to improve on last season's 8-9 overall record and 2-7 mark in the Big 12 (10th place). Texas A&M (7-2) and Texas (4-3-3) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the conference last season. The OU and Texas series is tied at one victory apiece with the Sooners winning last year's game, 1-0, in Norman. That feat will be difficult to repeat playing in Austin against a team that returns six starters.

When the Sooners head to College Station they will be going against the 15th-ranked team in the country according to Soccer Buzz magazine. The Aggies hold a 2-0 edge in games against OU, including a 2-1 win two years ago. Last year's scheduled season finale was canceled due to inclement weather and wet field conditions. A&M returns eight starters in its seventh soccer season. First-year Sooner head coach Randy Evans is looking forward to the challenge.

"This is a great test for us to see how good we need to be by the end of the season," said Evans. "We are going to have to beat teams like this if we plan on winning the conference tournament. I don't think that we are ready for the season to start. We have suffered too many injuries. I haven't had a chance to work the team hard enough to prepare for Big 12 competition."

OU LOSES CLOSE EXHIBITION GAME TO TULSA
Oklahoma opened the season on Sunday with an exhibition loss to Tulsa, 1-0, in Norman. OU, which has been hurt by injuries this pre-season, was limited with a number of starters sitting out.

"We had seven starters sitting on the bench due to injury," said Sooner head coach Randy Evans. "We have 26 girls on roster and by the end of the game we were using 12. Some of them probably could have played, but we did not want to take the risk in an exhibition. I thought that we got a real gutty performance out of Natalie Hixson."

OU was led by sophomore Kate Rusley. The midfielder had seven total shots with her final two on goal.

"We are a young team, but we are coming together real well," said Rusley. "I have a lot of expectations for this team."

M*A*S*H UNIT
Several injured Sooners will hopefully heal in time for the team's first game against Texas on Friday. Sophomore forwards Shannon Wing and Amber Givens should play large roles after being limited during Sunday's exhibition game. Givens (pulled quad) played for a short time in the second half, while Wing (pulled quad) was held out of action altogether. Junior Jessica Volcansek (broken foot) and sophomore Krissy Dawson (torn ACL) may be lost for the season.

"The injuries have hindered our ability to be ready for the start of the season," said Evans. "On the flip side, it gives more people the opportunity to play. Hopefully this will help in the long run. The team's attitude and enthusiasm have not been hindered when they could have been. We are not going to lower our expectations, but we might be looking at a rougher start."