CHICKASHA – Coming off of two of the strongest seasons in school history, the Drover women have a lot to prove.

With practically the same team returning, the Drover women have a chance to expand on the lessons they’ve learned over the last few seasons and use that extra experience to take the team farther than its ever been.

The Drovers — who start the season seventh in the conference — have only one starter from the 2010 squad who graduated. Missing from this season’s roster is Brittany Jay, who grabbed seven goals and had nine assists in 2010.

USAO ended with a 10-7-1 record but fought some tough losses on the road in overtime.

“Maybe we didn’t get where we wanted to but also weren’t too far out of it at times,” Hampton said of last season.

Returning this year are 2009 All-American Calli Cooper and 2010 All-Conference First Teamers Taylor Fain and Annie Zoch.

Cooper led the team in goals in both 2009 and 2010, scoring 42 total goals in both seasons. Fain and Zoch were the second and third leading scorers respectively in 2010, together pulling in another 17 for the Drovers.

“On the women, we have a chance to be much better than last year,” Hampton said. “With the players coming back and the experience they gained, with the freshmen coming in we definitely added some talent.”

Hampton said he most eager to see the progress of three Oklahoma freshmen: Devon Legaard, of Edmond; Brooke DeGraffenreid, of Norman; and Megan Wilkerson, of Yukon.

Legaard helped lead her team to become two-time state champions in 2010 and 2011 and was showered with awards including All-State, All-Conference and All-District Honorable Mention.

Wilkerson has similar credentials, earning All-State, All-District two years and All-Conference two years. DeGraffenreid, a center mid-fielder, was named All-State in 2010.

Newcomers also include international students Linda Addo, from Ghana, and Andrea Geiger, from Germany, and a few others.

“We’re a better side this year. I don’t know what the results will show but the women are far more talented this year than they were last year,” Hampton said. “It’s up to use to prove we deserve to be in that top half of the conference.”

Hampton said he expects the women to finish at least in the top four of the conference.

“On women, things shaping up on track,” Hampton said after the first week of practice. “The girls, they might be ahead of last year’s team a bit.”

Published: Aug. 23, 2011