Oct. 10, 2010
While Palmer gave OU an early 1-0 lead, sophomore Dria Hampton provided the game-winning goal, a score in the 19th minute assisted by Palmer. Hampton’s blast, her third of the year, came from 20 yards out and beat KU goalkeeper Kat Liebetrau high into the net.
OU, which led 2-0 at the half on Sunday, has won two straight games and four out of the last five to improve to 8-5-1 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play. Kansas dropped to 5-9 overall and 1-5 in conference action.
Palmer has tallied 35 goals in her career (six in 2010) and moved past Logan Womack (2000-03) as the program’s most prolific goal scorer. Sunday’s goal was the quickest of Palmer’s career as she scored directly off the opening kickoff on an assist by fellow senior Lauren Alkek. Palmer also entered Sunday trailing Womack by two for the top slot in career points (two points for a goal and one point for an assist). Her assist on Hampton’s goal marked her 76th career point, again moving past Womack with 75 and giving her seven program records.
“Whitney’s success is a testament to her being committed to getting better everyday,” said OU Head Coach Nicole Nelson. “She has faced many challenges throughout her career and continues to persevere because of her strong work ethic.”
In the 66th minute, sophomore Caitlin Mooney joined in on the scoring and gave OU a 3-0 lead after she gathered a rebound and dribbled it into the KU net.
The Sooners have been rolling on offense as of late with 19 goals in the last five games, including eight scores (tied program record) during Friday night’s game versus Francis Marion.
“You have to give credit to the players for staying the course,” said Nelson. “We’ve created a lot of opportunities for most of the year and been inches off at times. In the past few weeks, we’ve done a good job of putting those chances away.”
Palmer has played a big role in OU’s increased offensive output. In the last five games, Palmer has recorded three goals and two assists. In addition to Palmer, five other Sooners have scored two or more goals in that span, including Hampton (two goals and two assists) and Mooney (three goals and one assist), who both scored on Sunday.
Defensively, sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Devonshire turned in another strong performance with a season-high eight saves. Devonshire and the defense’s bid for the fifth shutout of 2010 was spoiled when KU’s Caitlin Noble headed in the score.
Sunday’s win avenges OU’s 2-1 loss to Kansas in Norman last season. The Sooners have won two straight in Lawrence but trail the all-time series, 9-5-1.
The win also means OU has surpassed last season’s win total of seven (most wins in a season since 2006). More importantly, OU sits in a tie for fourth place in the Big 12 standings with five games remaining in the regular season.
“This team has done a tremendous job of getting better each week,” added Nelson. “They are learning to be mature competitors and are having fun doing it.”
Over the last three weeks, OU has a chance to move up in the standings. Three of the final five games will be played at home and three of the opponents sit ahead of OU in the standings (Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M).
Both of those scenarios come into play in OU’s next game on Thursday, Oct. 14 against Nebraska at 7 p.m. in Norman. The Huskers (11-4, 4-2) sit one game ahead of the Sooners and have won five straight in the all-time series.
On Sunday, Oct. 17, OU concludes the home stand against the Colorado Buffaloes (5-8-1, 1-4-1) at 1 p.m.