NORMAN, Okla., - The University of Oklahoma soccer team opened up play this spring with a pair of games in Austin, Texas, against Rice and the Region III ODP (Olympic Develoment Program). The first game was against Rice who was coming off a terrific fall season, making the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program’s history. The game was played under very unfavorable weather conditions.
In the first twenty minutes, it appeared that both teams were trying to shake off the rust of the winter break with neither team generating great scoring chances. The Owls were the first team with a chance to score after they took a turnover in midfield and got behind the Sooner defense only to be denied by a great save from goalkeeper Jenny Nichols.
The Sooners then began to apply pressure on the Rice defense. OU got on the board half way through the first half with a header from Lauren Harris off a corner kick from Shana All.
OU continued the pressure with a flurry of chances just before halftime finishing with a goal from close range by Savannah Scott. Down 2-0 at halftim, Rice came out stronger in the second half but failed to get on the board.
“Our defense was sharp," said OU head coach Randy Evans. "Kady (Kelly), Jenny (Jones), and Andrea (Hurley) did a great job, especially in those conditions, of shutting down their attack."
The Sooners continued to create scoring chances with Lauren Harris serving as the main threat. At the 10:00 mark of the second half, off a free kick from 22 yards out, she hit a blast off the crossbar. A few minutes later from 25-yards out, she beat two defenders off the dribble to the endline and set up Shana All for a tap in to make the final score 3-0.
"I was looking forward to playing Rice, they are a very good team that is well coached and well organized", said Evans. "It was disappointing to have to play them under those weather conditions because anything can happen in that type of weather. Rice is certainly a much better team than the score indicated, but overall it was a good performance, especially being the first time we’ve played in nearly four months.
"I was also thrilled with some individual performances. The back three were tremendous because it was the first time Andrea has played in the back and she was terrific. Harris has been sick and wasn’t even expected to make the trip, much less play, and she had a huge impact on the offense. Jenny Nichols came up with a great save and an overall solid performance".
The second game of the day was against the Region III ODP team and weather was once again was a factor in the contest
“I really had no interest in playing on that field," said Evans. "I feel so fortunate that we escaped without injury."
The game started with neither team able to connect on its passes. The standing water abruptly halted most of the passing and dribbling attempts. The opposition proved to be very dangerous using its speed to get behind the Sooners defense a few times in the first ten minutes. The Region team scored on a low cross that skipped across the pitch and bounced off the attacker for a goal.
Down 0-1, OU picked up momentum and started to apply pressure to the opposing defense. Michele Enos flicked a header to Tenesha Duncan who beat two defenders off the dribble and then beat the keeper. However, the ball never passed over the line as it was halted by standing water in the box.
A few minutes later Lauren Harris got behind the defense and hit a shot from 15-yards out that beat the keeper but once again could not get through the wet pitch.
Down 0-1 at halftime the Sooners could not convert on a couple of scoring chances and the Region III team added another goal before the officials ended the game early due to adverse weather conditions.
“I was thrilled with the team's effort," said Evans after the day's action. "I thought we were able to match the energy of the Region team despite it being our second game of the day and their first.
"The backline continued to impress, Harris looked dynamic again in the attack and Tenesha proved to be very dangerous off the dribble. Because of the conditions, the game just totally lost it’s usefulness of giving either team some early season experience."
OU's 2005 Spring Schedule
*all times local and subject to change. BOLD indicates home matches.