COLUMN: Sooners' defensive-driven season not a failure in Potter's first year at OU
Ben Williams, The Oklahoma Daily
As of Halloween, the OU women’s soccer season came to an end with a disappointing, lopsided 3-0 loss to rival Texas in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.
The game marked just another of Oklahoma’s many games this season that have been plagued by an all too familiar problem: inconsistency, mainly on the offensive end.
The Sooners were outshot 235-309 by opponents this season, and 88 of Oklahoma’s shots were taken by one person: senior forward Renae Cuellar.
Cuellar was the only real bright spot for the Sooners offense this season. She scored 12 of OU’s 23 goals, and the next closest to her total on the team were junior midfielder Samantha Howell and sophomore forward Kelly Price.
They both had two goals this season.
Cuellar’s offensive prowess did not go unnoticed, though, as she won Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. This made Sooner history as Cuellar was the first player to win this award in the program’s history.
Unfortunately, Cuellar graduates this year, and there is no clear standout to replace her.
While all of this may seem negative, mostly because it is, there are plenty of positives OU can take from this season.
The biggest positive hands-down was the Sooners’ defense. Early in the season, the team was practically piggybacked through games by senior goalkeeper Kelsey Devonshire and the scrappy Oklahoma defenders.
Devonshire broke the career saves record this year. This might not be a record a team wants its goalie to have to break because of the correlation saves has with wins, but regardless it’s a testament to Devonshire’s ability as a goalkeeper.
And that ability was much need this year to help the Sooners stay close in games in which they were heavily outshot. Most notably the Baylor game, in which despite getting outshot 23-4 OU still managed to salvage a 1-1 tie because of Devonshire and the unrelenting Sooner defense.
A few things to consider before you start thinking of this 2012 season as an offense failure and a defensive juggernaut: Coach Matt Potter is in his first year at Oklahoma, and while his defense was a smooth effective transition, his offense took some time.
His offense took a lot of time to adjust, but once it did it was efficient. The Sooners won three of their last four regular season games and outscored opponents 7-3 during that stretch.
Looking back on the season, it can’t be deemed a success or a disappointment. It’s a disappointment the Sooners’ record was 7-9-4, considering they lost to UNLV and Oral Roberts — which in itself was painful to watch, not to mention two of their four ties should have been wins, and the LSU game was blown in the last two minutes of the second overtime.
So at best, OU could have had a 10-win season and maybe a better chance at an NCAA berth. The real success here is the intensity and potential Oklahoma showed against teams who were supposed to kill them.
Outside of West Virginia and Virginia Tech, the Sooners gave every higher ranked team a run for its money or just flat out beat it like OU did when Oklahoma State was ranked third in the country.
When it comes down to it, just chalk this year up as Potter’s transition season and realize he did above and beyond better than any previous coach had in their first seasons.
And he’ll do better than any before him have from this year forward.
Ross Stracke is a journalism sophomore.