NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Oklahoma and head soccer coach Randy Evans announced the Sooners’ 2005 schedule on Monday. OU will be celebrating the program’s tenth season in 2005 and the slate includes 10 contests played at John Crain Field in Norman.
The Sooners will kick things off with a preseason game against Purdue in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.
“We had a couple goals in mind when putting together this schedule and the top priority was to schedule tough non-conference opponents in order to prepare us for the Big 12 season,” said Evans. “I think we have achieved that by playing Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas, Saint Louis, East Carolina and Western Michigan, among others.
2005 OU Soccer Schedule | Printable Schedule (PDF)
“We are also very excited to be playing Purdue in the preseason. We are facing a lot of these teams for the first time and mixing things up with different schools on the schedule was something else we wanted to accomplish this year.”
Oklahoma will open its 2005 regular season on the road for the first time in three years at Saint Louis on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. The first-ever meeting between the schools occurred in last year’s season opener in Norman, a match that ended in a 1-1 tie. The Sooners will return home after meeting the Billikens to host Arkansas in the home opener on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.
After the opening weekend, OU will travel up north to play in its first regular season contest against an opponent from the Big 10 conference in the first annual Big 12-Big 10 Challenge. The Sooners will tangle with Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc., on Friday, Sept. 2 and Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, on Sept. 4.
OU will face another pair of teams for the first time when it returns home to host Western Michigan on Friday, Sept. 9 and East Carolina on Sunday, Sept. 11. The non-conference portion of the schedule will wind down with the annual Oklahoma Shootout, hosted by Oklahoma State, pitting OU versus Tulsa in Norman (9/16) and Oral Roberts in Stillwater, Okla. (9/18). Another first-ever meeting will conclude the non-conference slate with Texas State at John Crain Field on Sept. 23.
The Sooners have the luxury of starting Big 12 play with three consecutive home games, beginning with Texas on Sept. 25. OU will then entertain Texas Tech on Sept. 30 and Colorado on Oct. 2. After two road games at Missouri (10/7) and Kansas (10/9), Evans and company return to Norman to host Texas A&M (10/14) and Baylor (10/16).
The regular season will come to a close with three straight road games. OU will travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska on Oct. 21 and then to Ames for a contest with Iowa State on Oct. 23. The annual Bedlam Series, presented by the Bank of Oklahoma and Your Oklahoma Ford Dealers will then end the regular season on Oct. 28. Already a heated rivalry, the winner in the Bedlam Series has produced the final berth in the Big 12 Tournament in two out of the last three years.
“This is a difficult non-conference schedule and the away portion of it will be extremely challenging,” added Evans. “When we play up north at schools like Iowa State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas, it slows down our style of play and forces us to change our strategy because the playing surface is slower. But we look forward to the challenge.”
The top eight teams from the Big 12 conference will participate in the 2005 Big 12 Tournament, hosted in San Antonio, Texas at Blossom Stadium on Nov. 2, 4 and 6. 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 held in College Station, Texas.
The last time OU participated in the postseason was in 2003, where it appeared in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments.
“I still believe last year’s team was one of the most talented we have fielded at OU,” commented Evans. “But injuries really slowed down what that team could have accomplished. In 2005, we will not look to be better than last year’s team but be more successful than the 2003 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
“We want to position ourselves as one of the top four teams in the conference this year. The Big 12 is strong enough each and every year to place five or six teams in the NCAA Tournament and with our non-conference schedule, we think our RPI will be high enough to get us back into the postseason.”