Aug. 17, 2010

 
(From L to R) Sage Coralli, Dria Hampton, Lisa Jett, Lauren Alkek, Whitney Palmer, Tiana Dickson, Kelsey Devonshire, Michelle Alexander and Jordan White

WHO'S BACK
Below is a brief look at some of the key names returning in 2010, highlighted by the three seniors leading the way at each position and sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Devonshire.

Senior Whitney Palmer (F)-- In three years, Palmer has accumulated 29 goals and 61 points, ranking second and third all-time at OU, respectively. An preseason All-Big 12 selection, Palmer is once again expected to lead a high-powered offensive attack after she ranked 12th nationally with a program-record 15 goals in 2009.

Senior Tiana Dickson (MF) -- Dickson owns more starts (57) than any other Sooner on the current roster and she will lead the defensive side of the midfield. Dickson will become the second member of the family to graduate from OU, following Norrelle, a softball All-American in softball. The youngest sister, Zoe, joins Tiana for her final season.

Senior Lauren Alkek (D) -- A converted defender, Alkek enters her senior season with 49 games played and will help lead the Sooner back line. The aggressive Alkek has breakaway speed and ability to score out of the back, reminiscent of her freshman season playing as a forward.

Sophomore Kelsey Devonshire (GK) -- One of two true freshmen to start every game in 2009 (Dria Hampton), Devonshire stifled opponents with an OU freshman record six shutouts. Fans can expect more of the same in 2010 as Devonshire is surrounded by an experienced back line.

PURCHASE SOCCER TICKETS:
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NORMAN, Okla. -- The 2010 soccer season gets underway this week as the Oklahoma Sooners head to Oklahoma State for a non-conference installment of the Bedlam Series, presented by Oklahoma Farm Bureau and The Oklahoman. The match on Friday, Aug. 20 will get underway at 7 p.m. at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex in Stillwater, Okla.

OU is coming off a 6-1 exhibition win over visting Northern Colorado last Friday. The Sooners led 1-0 at the half after a Dria Hampton goal, but sophomore transfer Caitlin Mooney opened up the game with a hat trick in the final 45 minutes. Senior Whitney Palmer and freshman Zoe Dickson also scored in the victory.

Below is the second of a two-part season preview featured on SoonerSports.com. Click here for part one of the preview.

Stay tuned on Wednesday as the 2010 Media Guide will be released online and available to download and print.

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POSITION PREVIEW
A brief look at each position

GOALKEEPERS
Key Returner: Kelsey Devonshire (So.)
- As a true freshman, Devonshire played every minute in goal for OU and recorded six shutouts. She is physical, has a calming presence, and is expected to be more of a vocal leader in 2010.

Nelson on keepers:
“Kelsey had a great freshman year and has matured immensely. She looks more comfortable on that back line and is communicating more. She has all the tools needed to be successful at the position. I’ve always said a good goalkeeper has to have a fearless mentality, exceptional confidence, be good with their feet, and obviously have good shot-stopping ability. In addition to all that potential, she also has the best reaction skills I’ve ever coached.”

DEFENSE
Key Returner (s): Michelle Alexander (Jr.), Lauren Alkek (Sr.) & Katharine Nutman (So.)
- The trio provides OU with solid experience and leadership as Alexander and Alkek have two years starting at the position. Nutman, a late addition and member of England’s U-18 team, stepped in immediately last year and strengthened the back line.

Key Newcomer: Carrie Whigham (Fr.)
- The talented defender has been a member of the U.S. National Team since age 15 and recently captained the U-18 squad in Spain. Whigham has one of the deepest pedigrees of any soccer recruit in OU history. She will solidify an already experienced line.

Nelson on defense:
"One key for us this year on defense is that we return experience and have a freshman that has played at a very high level. The organization of our back line will be much better than last year in that we have two center backs that have played for their national teams. 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.”

MIDFIELD
Key Returner (s): Tiana Dickson (Sr.), Dria Hampton (So.) & Jordan White (Jr.)
- Another experienced group of player that features a combined 57 starts from last season, in addition to 13 points. Their ability to maintain possession will be key in 2010.

Key Newcomer : Zoe Dickson (Fr.)
- The youngest of three sisters to star in Crimson and Cream, Zoe joins sister Tiana in the midfield. Dickson’s oldest sister, Norelle, was a softball All-American in 2007. Zoe has participated in the U-15 and U-16 camps with the U.S National team.

Nelson on midfield:
“A midfielder has to have the ability to quickly transition from defense to offense and read what the game gives them. The players mentioned understand that we are a possession-oriented team. We return significant experience in the midfield with Dria leading that group. She has a tactical knowledge that is unique for a player her age and is surrounded by players in the midfield that have played at a high level. We have attackers that are a threat from both a play-making and scoring perspective. ”

FORWARDS
Key Returner (s): Sage Coralli (Jr.), Kelsey Kraft (Jr.)& Whitney Palmer (Sr.)
- All three players give OU a balance at the forward position with speed, power and height. Palmer, an All-Big 12 preseason honoree, proved to be one of the best finishers in the nation last season.

Key Newcomer: Caitlin Mooney (So.)
- A transfer from Maryland with national team experience, Mooney was one of the state of Oklahoma’s top recruits in 2009. She gives OU an exciting duo to watch up top with Palmer.

Nelson on forwards:
"Our attack is going to be a lot more balanced, specifically with our forwards. We have balance in that we have speed to get behind defenses, the ability to play make and the ability to hold the ball. We expect Caitlin to add a unique sophistication to our attack. This combination, if executed well, is hard for an opponent to defend. “