NORMAN, Okla. -- University of Oklahoma head soccer coach Randy Evans and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione announced the Sooners’ 2006 schedule on Monday. OU, which opens the season in Hawai’i against Washington on August 26, will face a tough non-conference schedule consisting of seven first-time opponents. Five of those teams, Washington, Hawai’i, Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue, will challenge Oklahoma in the first five games of the year.
The 2006 slate, comprised of 19 games, features 12 contests that will be played at the newly renovated OU Soccer Complex. The $4.5 million construction project on John Crain Field began in November and is scheduled to be ready for the 2006 season. Oklahoma will play in its home opener on Friday, Sept. 1 against Michigan.
“This should be the most demanding non-conference schedule that OU has ever had and it will certainly ready us for Big 12 competition,” said Evans. “In addition, we are hoping this schedule will get us prepared for a run at post-season play. This schedule is extremely challenging and will provide us with a strong RPI for NCAA tournament consideration.”
Overall, the Sooners will face seven teams that advanced to last year’s NCAA Tournament (Michigan State, Purdue, Colorado, Texas A&M, Texas, Iowa State and Nebraska).
Fans will get their first look at Oklahoma soccer and its’ renovated facility with a preseason game against Texas Christian on August 15 at 3 p.m. The Sooners will conclude the preseason slate with an August 18 game at North Texas.
The regular season begins in Hawaii at the Ohana Hotels and Resorts No Ka Oi against Washington and host Hawai’i. After the road trip across the Pacific Ocean, the Sooners will return to Norman and open a six-game home stand. That stretch begins with Michigan and concludes with in-state rivals Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts.
“The season starts with a wonderful, yet very demanding trip to Hawaii,” added Evans. “We open the year with Washington, which was a final eight team in 04, and then we play the host Hawai’i, which has proven to be strong at home.
“We are also very excited to come home to open our new facility as we begin three straight against the Big 10 Conference, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. Then we open up the conference slate in what should be an intense game against OSU.”
The Big 12 opener against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State will take place on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. The in-state rivalry game, which is typically reserved for the last game of the regular season, has been decided by one goal or less in eight of the 10 all-time meetings. For the last six seasons and seven overall, the two have squared off in the regular-season finale, and four of those games have had postseason berths on the line.
In addition to hosting OSU, the Sooners will also entertain Kansas (Sept. 24), Missouri (Oct. 6), Iowa State (Oct. 8) and Nebraska (Oct. 22) in Big 12 play. Oklahoma will hit the road in conference play against Colorado (Sept. 22), Texas A&M (Sept. 29), Texas (Oct. 1), Texas Tech (Oct. 13) and Baylor (Oct. 15).
The top eight teams from the Big 12 conference will participate in the 2006 Big 12 Tournament, hosted in San Antonio, Texas at Blossom Stadium on Nov. 1, 3 and 5. The winner of the conference tournament, along with at-large bids, will then advance to the 64-team NCAA Tournament, held on campus sites, with this year’s championship hosted by North Carolina State University in Cary, N.C.
The Sooners, who recorded a school-record 13 victories last season, have made four Big 12 Championship appearances (2005, 2003, 2001 and 2000) in the program’s ten-year history and participated in their lone NCAA Tournament in 2003.