By Michael Kinney
After splitting its first two games of the season, the Oklahoma soccer team returns to action at 7 p.m. today when it faces rival Oklahoma State.
In 2012 the Sooners pulled off their biggest upset of the season when they knocked off then-No. 3 OSU 1-0 in Norman in front of a record crowd of 2,475 fans. This time they will be traveling to the unfriendly confines of Stillwater.
The non-conference contest against Oklahoma State will be the first of two showdowns between the Sooners and the Cowgirls this season, with the second taking place in Norman Oct. 4.
The Cowgirls were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 by league coaches in the conference preseason poll after finishing seventh in the conference in 2012. OSU holds a 1-0-1 record so far in 2013, notching a 1-0 win over Tennessee-Martin and a 2-2 tie in double-overtime against Vanderbilt.
OU will also be without Renae Cuellar, who led the conference in scoring last year. Finding players to replace that scoring output has been one of second-year coach Matt Potter’s most important tasks.
“Well, you don’t replace a player like Renae, Big 12 Player of the Year,” Potter said. “The bottom line is it’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up and show their qualities. It may be more by committee than individualistic. That may fit our philosophy more.”
In the Sooners’ 2-0 win against Kenesaw State on Sunday, both goals came off the foot of freshman Madison Saliba. And Devin Barrett scored the team’s only goal in the 3-1 loss to Tennessee.
One player Oklahoma is looking to get into the scoring column soon is Daisy Cardona. The junior college transfer from Ventura College has only one total shot in two games.
“You can start with Daisy Cardona, who is the junior college player of the year,” Potter said. “She scored a ton of goals.”
Even though Cardona hasn’t put one in the back of the net yet, the forward knows what her role is on the team.
“The pressure is on me,” Cardona said. “Coach Potter has high expectations for me. So I want to fulfill his expectations and not be too nervous to where it affects my game.”
Cardona is only 5-foot-3. She knows playing at the D-1 level, her size will be used against her. However, she also plans to use her other abilities.
“I feel like I am a skillful player and can control the ball under pressure,” Cardona said. “I feel like teams in the Big 12 are going to pressure. So I just need to be relaxed on the ball, distributing and creating opportunities to score.”