From OSU Sports Information
For the 2012 Lady Bison soccer team, it’s going to all be about competition.
Last year’s squad fought its way to a 7-10-2 record and went 6-3-2 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. This year, the team is focusing on challenging for the conference crown and making its first appearance in the NAIA Tournament.
With only two non-conference home games and six home dates overall, the Lady Bison are going to have to be road warriors. That’s a role the team got a taste of last season.
“Last year, our schedule was rated the third toughest in the NAIA,” said Head Coach Mike White. “This year’s schedule isn’t that rugged, but it’s still pretty tough.”
There are five games on the schedule against teams in last year’s postseason Top 25. The Lady Bison play two of those on a trip to Florida, taking on No. 4 Embry-Riddle and No. 14 Northwood. OBU also plays No. 22 Kansas Wesleyan, No. 10 Oklahoma City and No. 21 USAO – all five matches on the road.
That competition will be tough, but the Lady Bison will be seasoned and ready before the first match as the players compete daily for playing time.
“We’re going to have 29 or 30 girls on the roster, so there will be battles for playing time,” White said. “Depth shouldn’t be an issue. There is a lot of talent, but we’re still pretty young. We have a small senior class. The talent level is the highest it has been since I’ve been here.”
The senior class includes defender/midfielder Carley Sell and keeper Shannon Griffith, who are returning starters. The junior class isn’t much bigger, but features returning All-Conference midfielder Elisa Brito.
Griffith was 6-5-1 in goal last year with 83 saves.
Brito is the team’s leading returning scorer, tallying eight goals and seven assists last season. Also are returning are JJ Kosa, Kariny Delahaye and Amanda Vinsant, who had two goals apiece. Nicol Lagos is the only other returning player with a goal last season. Mackenzie Bruton (four assists) and Marta Venegas (three assists) also return.
The competition for playing time will be at every position, White said.
“It’s going to be a battle up top,” White said. “We’ve got three freshmen and three returners for two spots. We have about the same situation at midfield with four returning player and four very solid, capable incoming players.”
The day-in-day-out competition for playing time could result in something bigger this year for OBU.
“We definitely want to win the conference and make it to nationals. That’s our No. 1 goal,” said White.
Ray Fink is the Sports Information Director at Oklahoma Baptist University.