By Michael Kinney
CNHI News Service
NORMAN, Okla. —
The Matt Potter era is ready to take flight. Oklahoma’s newest head soccer coach will lead the Sooners onto the field for the first time 7 p.m. Friday at John Crain Field against Nebraska.
Potter coached at Washington State for nine years before replacing Nicole Nelson during the offseason. He led the Cougars to an 88-69-2 record and three trips to the postseason. He is looking to have even more success in Norman.
However, in the Sooners’ only exhibition game during the preseason, the team didn’t look like it had picked up Potter’s new style just yet. The team said the 2-0 loss to Tulsa last week was not indicative of what fans will see this year.
“I think we want to be exciting to watch,” Potter said. “We are obviously a work in progress in that. That’s what we want to be, a team that makes people want to come watch us for all the right reasons. We give back to the game. We commit to being something bigger than we are individually.”
Nebraska was victorious in its lone exhibition game with a 2-0 decision Aug. 10 at South Dakota State. Nebraska enters its 19th season under head coach John Walker. The Huskers were 7-10-1 in 2011 and finished 10th (4-7) in their first season in the Big 10 Conference. They return six starters from a year ago and were picked to finish 10th this season by the league coaches.
The Sooners are 2-12-1 all-time against the Huskers after the last meeting in 2010, which ended in a scoreless tie in Norman.
For the first time in three years the Sooners will take the field without Dria Hampton. The senior transferred to Florida State over the summer.
While Potter could have made use of the talented Hampton, he said the team will be able to overcome the loss.
“I never had the privilege of meeting her,” Potter said. “I heard a lot of great things about her. To be honest, in terms of the job we are doing here, she has never been part of what we’ve been able to see or do. I wish her the best of luck. My focus has been on the players we have here.”
Even without Hampton, the Sooners return an experienced lineup that includes Caitlin Mooney, Kelsey Devonshire, Brianna Turang and Zoe Dickson.
“I think that we are going to be great,” Mooney said. “We have the potential to be amazing. We just have to get used to each other, get rid of the errors and just play the best we can play.”
Mooney, a senior out of Edmond, is coming off a strong junior campaign in which she led the team in points (17) and tied for team lead in goals (six) and ranked second in assists (five). But she has higher expectations for herself in her final season.
“Mainly I want to be there for my team,” Mooney said. “I want to do whatever I can do to make my team better and make myself better. I want lead on the field and show, that if we are down, that we can get back. I just want them to know that I’m going to keep fighting and be a leader. You can expect the best that I have.”