CHICKASHA – After scoring a whopping 89 goals in 2009, the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma women’s soccer team looks for more of the same to go with a stronger defensive effort this fall.
USAO, which ranked first in the nation at the NAIA level in assists per game (3.58) and second in goals per outing (4.74), went 13-6 last season, including a 7-4 finish in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Of the Lady Drovers’ six losses, all were by just one goal. USAO scored in double digits three times last year, with its biggest margin of victory being 11-0 over Huston-Tillotson. They won two other matches by a 10-0 count.
“We started seven freshmen and they all got a lot of minutes last year,” said USAO head coach Jimmy Hampton, who returns all of his starters, including four all-conference players (one first team selection).
Back in the fold for the Lady Drovers is SAC Newcomer of the Year and sophomore-to-be Calli Cooper, who tallied 26 goals and 18 assists a year ago as a midfielder. She ranked first in the nation in assists per game, third in goals and total points and second in total shot attempts which landed her on the All-SAC First Team.
“Calli put up some good numbers, but she wasn’t as good as Calli can be. I can see her getting some even better numbers this year,” Hampton said.
Also returning for USAO are three second team all-conference picks in sophomore forward Taylor Fain, along with midfielders Brittany Jay, a senior, and Gabby Martinez, a sophomore.
Fain scored 15 goals and collected seven assists last year. Jay tallied 13 goals to go with 12 assists and Martinez scored nine times and picked up seven assists.
“Of the six losses we had, Taylor missed four of those games due to injury, so we are really counting on her. Brittany had a very good year as a junior and Gabby had a solid year,” said Hampton.
Joining the Lady Drover attack is freshman Lauren Carter, out of Tulsa. “She should be a quality player up top for us,” Hampton said.
Obviously, the attack wasn’t a problem for USAO last season.
“Scoring goals is not an issue. I thought our defense was very poor last year. Of course, we started three freshmen and a sophomore back there,” said Hampton, who is excited about two of his returning players on the back line.
Leslie Bross, coming off a torn ACL, returns as well as Annie Zoch.
“Leslie is a tremendous player. Annie can be one of the best center backs in the conference and the country,” Hampton said.
Senior Destiny Wilson is back in goal for the Lady Drovers after posting a 1.60 goals-against average in 2009. USAO also picked up another goalie in freshman Addie Tipton, out of Metro Christian in Tulsa.
“Addie is a quality keeper. We’re excited to have her,” said Hampton.
NOTE: USAO received votes for the NAIA top 25 poll which was released Wednesday. If the rankings were extended, the Lady Drovers would be ranked No. 34.