Game 1: Friday, Aug. 27 (7:30 p.m.)
Oklahoma versus Saint Louis
The 2004 edition of the Oklahoma soccer team opens the regular season at home against Saint Louis on Friday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m. It marks the first ever meeting between the two schools. In 2003, Oklahoma reached a goal it has been striving for since the program’s inception in 1995. The year produced the school’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament and the squad finished 8-7-5. Now in their ninth year, the Sooners are looking to make a trip to the NCAA postseason a regular occurrence.
The Billikens went 14-5-3 in 2003 and finished fourth in Conference USA with a 6-3-1 mark in league play. Saint Louis returns eight starters to this season’s squad and 17 letterwinners overall. They are ranked No. 13, one spot ahead of OU, in the Soccer Buzz Central Region preseason top 25 poll. Senior forward Jamie Perry is the top returner from SLU’s offense last year. Perry led the team in goals (10) and assists (9). Christie Cigno and Dee Guempel also were key players for SLU in 2003, scoring eight goals each.
Gates will open one hour prior to the 7:30 p.m. start of the game at John Crain Field on the corner of Imhoff Road and Chautauqua Avenue. The first 500 fans will receive a free soccer schedule magnet. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more at $3 a ticket. OU students receive free admission with a vaild student ID. In addition, those in attendance at Friday’s game will have the opportunity to win a parking pass for the OU football game vs. Bowling Green on September 4. For more information, contact the OU ticket office at 800-456-GoOU.
Game 2: Sunday, Aug. 29 (1 p.m.)
Oklahoma versus SMU
The Sooners will play their second home game in three days when they face SMU on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Mustangs are a perennial top 25 team and come in ranked No. 21 in the Soccer Buzz national poll. SMU went 17-3-2 last year and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Texas A&M.
The 2003 WAC Champions return eight starters and 11 letterwinners from last season and hold the all-time series advantage over the Sooners, 3-2. OU has won the past two meetings in the series however, with the most recent victory coming last season in Dallas, Texas, (2-1 overtime). The Mustangs have four returners who recorded double-digits in points last year. Senior midfielder Jill Heinemann headlines that list with seven goals and seven assists.
Gates will open one hour prior to the 1 p.m. start of the game at John Crain Field on the corner of Imhoff Road and Chautauqua Avenue. The first 100 fans will receive a free OU mouse pad. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more at $3 a ticket. OU students receive free admission with a vaild student ID. For more information, contact the OU ticket office at 800-456-GoOU.
Leadership was one of the big question marks entering last season. In 2004, that does not appear to be a problem as 14 upperclassmen (seven seniors and seven juniors) dominate the roster. Nine starters return and will be joined by a talented group of freshmen fighting for a Big 12 Championship.
Defense has been the trademark of Oklahoma soccer for the last few years. Over the past three seasons, the OU defense has played a major role in establishing John Crain Field as one of the more difficult places to earn a road win in the Big 12. Remaining healthy will be key to this year's defense.
The center of the OU midfield will look the same as it did in 2003 with junior Lauren MacIver controlling the center of the field again for the Sooners. The defensive center midfielder will most likely be Samantha Faulkner with freshman Lauren Harris also looking for time.
EXPERIENCE EQUALS SUCCESS
If experience equals success, then the Sooners are in a for an enjoyable season. In 2004, OU returns 16 letterwinners and nine starters from last season. In the eight-year history of the OU soccer program, the Sooners have only sported more than 16 letterwinners on two occassions. In both of those instances, the Sooners advanced to the Big 12 tournament. OU has advanced to three Big 12 Tournaments in its eight seasons of existence.
In 2003, OU returned 19 letterwinners and eight starters. That team went 8-7-5 and advanced to the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament. The 2001 edition of the Sooners also featured 19 returning letterwinners, but only four starters. That squad posted, at the time, the most wins in a single season with 11 and finished 11-7-1. Oklahoma duplicated that feat in 2001, with an 11-8 mark.
This season, OU is hoping that the experience, coupled with a talented freshmen class, will help it take the next step. The Sooners will look to advance to their fourth Big 12 Tournament in five years. OU is 1-3 lifetime in postseason conference play, posting its lone victory in the 2000 quarterfinals against Texas by a 2-0 count.
SOONERS PICKED SEVENTH IN BIG 12
Oklahoma was picked to finish in seventh place in the Big 12 Conference, according to a coaches poll released by the league office on Wednesday, August 18.
The Sooners, who return 16 letterwinners from last year’s 8-7-5 team, were slotted behind Texas A&M, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Following Oklahoma in the poll were Baylor, Iowa State and Texas Tech. Coaches were not allowed to vote on their own team. Nebraska elected not to participate in the voting and was not included in the preseason poll. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team, the other 10 teams only received points from nine voting coaches.
Coached by sixth-year head coach Randy Evans, the Sooners will open their 2004 schedule with home games against Saint Louis and SMU on Aug. 27 and 29, respectively. In 2003, the Sooners were tabbed to finish sixth in the conference and took the No. 6 seed into the Big 12 Tournament before losing to Kansas. After making its third appearance in the Big 12 Tournament in school history, OU made its debut in the NCAA Tournament where they lost to the No. 7 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols, 1-0.
“The Big 12 is one of the better soccer conferences out there,” said Evans. “We proved that collectively last year when we sent eight teams to the NCAA postseason. Our goal is obviously to put together a strong enough season to be an at-large team, but ultimately we are striving for the automatic bid by winning the Big 12 Tournament.”
Junior captain Lauren MacIver headlines a talented group of Sooners that returns nine starters from the 2003 season. MacIver earned second-team All-Big 12 honors last season along with senior defender Erin Young. Evans also brings in one of his most talented freshmen classes in 2004.
“This team, on paper, will probably be the most talented that I have fielded at OU,” added Evans. “It should be an exciting season when you combine the incoming freshmen with an already talented group from last season.”
BIG 12 PRESEASON COACHES POLL