Sooners host Stephen F. Austin in exhibition game on Friday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.
Aug. 11, 2008
NORMAN, Okla. -- With the season opener less than two weeks away, SoonerSports.com brings fans a two-part preview of the 2008 OU soccer team.
The Sooners reported to camp last Wednesday and fans can catch their first glimpse of the team in action on Friday, Aug. 15 at the OU Soccer Complex against Stephen F. Austin. The action begins at 7 p.m. and admission is free.
Stay tuned on Wednesday for the second part of the season preview which will take a closer look at each position.
SEASON PREVIEW PART 1
Nicole Nelson became the third coach in the history of the OU soccer program on Dec. 21, 2007, and upon on her appointment, the Oklahoma native made it clear that she was driven to place OU among the elite in the nation.
“I am determined to make winning championships a Sooner soccer tradition,” Nelson said last winter after arriving in Norman.
After helping bring in a talented group of newcomers and working with the entire team in the spring, Nelson likes the makeup of the 2008 Oklahoma Sooners.
“Our goal every year will be to win championships and that starts with the Big 12 Conference,” Nelson said. “I expect this team to be very competitive. We have athletic and talented players who possess the desire to win.”
The Sooners finished 6-10-3 overall last season and ninth in the Big 12 Conference with a 2-7-1 record. OU started the season strong but struggled with one-goal games, winning just three of the 11 opportunities that arose.
Oklahoma will look to turn things around in 2008 as it returns 17 letterwinners, including seven players with starting experience (at least 10 games), in addition to a talented recruiting class.
However, among the returning starters, Katie Corbitt is the only player who has started at least 10 games in each of her three previous seasons. The Highland Village, Texas, native, along with fellow seniors Helen Ajufo and Traci Dickenson, will help lead a young and talented Sooner team that features two juniors, 12 sophomores and seven freshmen.
“Katie is an incredible leader for our team,” Nelson said. “ She has played about every minute of every game for the last three seasons and is extremely consistent in practice and in-game situations. Her consistent play and leadership will be a key to this team’s success.”
This 2008 sophomore class made a splash last season as they scored nine of the team’s 22 goals and five of the players (Lauren Alkek, Kelsey Allison, Ashley Bolden, Tiana Dickson and Whitney Palmer) each saw significant time as first-year players. They are joined by juniors Ashley Farrand, Kate Leyendecker and Kate Marr.
The group of returners, along with two Division I transfers (Sage Corrali, Pepperdine, and Lisa Jett, UCLA) and a talented recruiting class that is highlighted by the additions of Jordan White, Kelsey Kraft and Jordan King, will begin the season on August 22 at Colorado College.
“We couldn’t be more excited about getting started,” Nelson said. “In the past six months, we have put a lot of time into changing the culture with this program. Now it’s time to focus on playing some good soccer. As coaches, what we enjoy most is developing these players and preparing them for competition on the field. I expect this team to be competitive and fun to watch.”
Following the season opener on the road, the Sooners return to Norman to host Central Michigan on Friday, Aug. 29, at John Crain Field at the OU Soccer Complex, one of the premier collegiate soccer facilities in the nation. OU will host another Mid American Conference opponent that weekend on Aug. 31 with Ball State in town.
In preparation for the rigorous play in the Big 12 Conference, OU will host Rice, Louisiana State and Oregon and travel to North Texas, Memphis and Mississippi in non-conference action.
“A good non-conference schedule should prepare your team for the high level of competition in the Big 12 Conference,” Nelson said. “We believe these opponents will do just that.”
The conference slate kicks off on Friday, Sept. 26, at Colorado and the Sooners will complete the weekend on Sept. 28, in Lubbock, Texas against Texas Tech.
OU’s road schedule also includes last year’s regular season champion, Texas A&M, and Texas and Baylor.
Oklahoma opens the home portion of the Big 12 schedule against Missouri on Friday, Oct. 10, and the weekend continues with the Kansas Jayhawks on Oct. 12.
The Sooners will also host Nebraska and Iowa State before the season finale against Oklahoma State. The Ford Bedlam Series will be played on Friday, Oct. 31, in Norman as OU will look to snap a three-game skid against the Cowgirls.
“The Bedlam series is a very exciting rivalry,” Nelson said. “I believe it’s a series we can win and that starts this season in Norman.”
The Big 12 Championship (Nov. 5-9) will once again be held in San Antonio, Texas, at the Blossom Soccer Stadium. The top eight teams will compete in a single-elimination tournament to determine the conference’s champion and automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
The 64-team field will kick off the postseason on Nov. 14 and concludes on Dec. 7 at the Women’s College Cup, hosted this year by N.C. State in Cary, North Carolina.