Soccer season is just around the corner and throughout the week, SoonerSports.com has been previewing the upcoming season for the Oklahoma Sooners. The complete preview is broken up into three sections with the following featuring the second installment, the OU defense. Check the links at the bottom of the page to view the previous previews on the season outlook and the OU forwards.
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. The Sooners have won more than 79 percent of their home games over the past three years, compiling a 20-4-3. In 2004, OU will look to do much of the same and protect what has proven to be a valuable home field advantage in and out of conference action.
The biggest key for this year’s defense will once again be to remain healthy. The OU defense has the potential to be one of the Big 12’s best and it will be anchored by senior goalkeeper Catherine Wade (pictured above).
A big reason for the successful defense over the years has been solid goalkeeping. In 2003, Wade shouldered an enormous responsibility and stepped up to the challenge of leading the OU defense. In 13 of the Sooners' games, she stifled the opposing offenses, holding them to one goal or less. Included were four shutouts. Wade posted a 1.30 goals-against average while leading the Big 12 in saves with 151. Senior Keara Jones looks to be Wade's backup. Also battling will be senior Hollee Fink and newcomers Lindsey Pulat and Jennifer Nichols.
“Catherine has done a great job as our starting keeper and Keara has proven to be a quality backup,” said Evans. “Lindsey has joined the team after two years at Texas Tech and the wild card in the mix is Jenny Nichols. Nichols looks to be, without a doubt the future for the Sooners in goal. But when that future starts is uncertain. She could redshirt or become the starter if injuries impact the other keepers.”
Said Evans, “We are confident in our defense’s ability with the experience we return. Kirstin (Karfonta) has started in the center of the back for the last three years and will do so again this season with All-Big 12 defenders Christy Kenkel on the right side and Erin Young on the left.
“Jayme Seetin, Samantha Faulkner and Allyson Kucera could also figure into our defensive scheme. Jenny Jones is also very good in the back and I would not be too surprised to see Kady Kelly moving from the frontline for a look in the back.”
In 2003, Oklahoma soccer 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. The Sooners are looking to make a trip to the NCAA postseason a regular occurrence.