Aug. 19, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- Five different Sooners scored on Friday night as OU posted an impressive 5-0 victory in the 2011 season opener over Alabama at Birmingham in front of 1,026 fans at John Crain Field.
"We were pretty sharp," said OU Head Coach Nicole Nelson. "The goals we scored early were good goals. One of the things I really liked last week was we created good goal-scoring opportunities. Tonight, I think we had a little more end product with those opportunities."
Zoe Dickson, via an assist from Samantha Howell, gave OU a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute that they would pile on to throughout the game. Michelle Alexander, Dria Hampton, Kelsey Kraft and Caitlin Mooney also found the back of the net in the game.
One of the question marks heading into the season was how the Sooners would replace the program's all-time leading scorer in Whitney Palmer. On Friday, OU displayed its versatile offense with crisp passing and solid finishes.
"It's one of the things I've been saying about this attack, I think we are going to have a number of people to contribute to the attack and to goal scoring," added Nelson. "We have a number of attacking personalities that can score goals. We hope that continues."
OU fired 23 shots opposite the Blazers' five, including a 14-3 advantage in the first half. The Sooners were up 4-0 at the half after Alexander scored on Katharine Nutman's assist in the 12th minute, Hampton tallied an unassisted goal from 35 yards out in the 15th minute, and Kelsey Kraft scored on a deflection off Kelly Price's initial shot in the 39th minute.
The Sooner defense was also solid with its second shutout in the last three season openers. Starting goalkeeper Kelsey Devonshire made one save in the first half before being relieved by seniors Lisa Jett and Tori Rocke in the second half.
The five goals marked the second most in program history for the Sooners in a season opener behind the 8-0 win over Alabama A&M in 2007. In addition to eight different players recording goals or assists on Friday, the OU coaching staff also played 24 Sooners.
"It was crucial," said Nelson on being able to rest some starters early in the game. "As we know, Tennessee has, traditionally, a great program. They will be well coached and they will work (hard). They will have a couple extra hours rest on us because they played earlier. So I think that was great for us, not only from a rest perspective, but because this group has been working very hard. Its competitive for positions, and as you are able to see, the standard doesn't drop when we make changes."
OU returns to action on Sunday against Tennessee at 1 p.m. in Norman. The Lady Vols won earlier this afternoon in their opener at Kansas, 2-1, off a penalty kick in the 98th minute. The Sooners and Lady Vols have met once prior to the 2011 season. Tennessee defeated Oklahoma, 1-0, in the 2003 NCAA Knoxville Regional. The Vols were ranked No. 7 at the time and OU was making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament.