NORMAN – The Oklahoma soccer team officially opened its 2017 preseason with a two-hour training session at John Crain Field on Wednesday morning.
The Sooners return 16 student-athletes from their record-breaking 2016 season. The squad totaled 14 wins, the most in school history, including a 1-0 victory in the NCAA first round over SMU, marking the program’s first NCAA Championship win a year ago.
This season, OU welcomes seven freshmen to the team. Although the team lost key contributors from the 2016 senior class, sixth-year head coach Matt Potter said this year’s squad has the chance to build on the success of those before them.
“Whether it’s the incoming freshmen or the group that’s still here, there’s a lot of talent,” he explained. “In many ways, it’s their chance to shine beyond what is the (2016) senior class, and the senior class left them with a message that it’s their turn now to take this program even further. I think the group that’s already here has embraced that, and the freshmen get the opportunity to live into that. Nobody has to live up to anybody. It’s about living into what is the framework and culture of our program now.”
Potter said that during preseason, the team works to establish chemistry as a new group of athletes and prepare for the year ahead.
“It’s a unique team, a unique group,” Potter said. “It just needs to find its way of doing things that it can do well. We’ve prepared over the summer with a plan to help them do that, and today’s the first step of trying to figure out what’s going to be our new identity of this group going forward as we journey through a new fall.
“We’re trying to build through a season, not peak at the beginning,” he continued. “It’s a journey and we’re very aware of doing simple things now. Once we’ve got that in place, then we can kind of complicate things as we go.”
The Sooners are set to begin their 2017 slate with an exhibition match against BYU, a rematch of the 2016 NCAA second round, on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. CT at John Crain Field. OU opens the regular season at home on Aug. 18 against Arizona at 7 p.m. CT.