CHICKASHA -- As the USAO Drovers play their first home soccer game on Saturday, head coach Jimmy Hampton’s expectations for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams are very high. He expects both teams to win conference and go to nationals.
The women play Friday at Northeastern State University at 1 p.m. in Tahlequah. The men play Hillsdale College at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. on the Drover Soccer Pitch.
Hampton says one of the things both teams try to do is compete at all times -- whether on the practice field or in a game. “Compete, compete, compete is what both teams strive to do every day,” said Hampton, who refers to his teams as a “blue collar group,” because they “work hard every single day to get better.”
Hampton begins his 11th year as head coach of the Drovers, who finished the season 6-9-4 and eighth in the Sooner Athletic Conference with the women’s team. The men’s team finished 13-3-2 and fourth in the SAC. The men’s team also finished second in the SAC tournament, coming up just short of an automatic bid to the National Tournament.
There is “never a lack of hard work with these two teams,” Hampton said. Another goal the soccer team has is to “do right in life every day, not just on the soccer field. Basically we believe in karma." Experience also may play a role in the success of the teams this
Key returning players for the women’s team is Annie Zoch of Mannford and Gabriel Martinez of Oklahoma City.
Key returning players for the men include Luke Hackett of London, England; Nikola Cakarevic of Belgrade, Serbi; Frank Gibson of Glasgow, Scotland; Nial Crick of Leith, Scotland; and Chris Lee of Glasgow, Scotland.
The women have many new faces, but the ones who should have the quickest impact on the field are Erin Coggan of Cedar Hill, Texas; Calli Cooper of Norman; and Taylor Fain of Edmond.
New impact players for the men include Gavin Otieno of Nairobi, Kenya; Lasse Hupfield of Copenhagen, Denmark; and David Otieno of Nairobi, Kenya.
Hampton’s expectations for Friday’s game differ. On the women’s game, he said fans are going to find out how good the Drovers are with so many new players. There are lots of question marks that could not be answered during the preseason. He said he feels this game is “an opportunity.”
For the men’s first home stand Saturday, he promised a win. “The biggest task is replacing team captain John Gardner of Liverpool, England, who went down with a season-ending injury three days ago.The team will be looking for a new leader to step up."
Hampton says both teams strive to be disciplined and neither the men’s or women’s team will be out-worked.