SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – The history books have been written in Chickasha.
The 2011 Drover women won the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship and represented the university in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round against No. 4 Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego, Calif.
After a tough 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon, the Drovers fell to the physical, highly-ranked Sea Lions 3-0 to end the season.
“I told the seniors that they should be very proud of what they’ve achieved because they have really helped make the women’s program one of the best in the conference,” Assistant Coach Alexis Vizarelis said. “It’s a privilege to coach them.”
Vizarelis served as head coach in the team’s first national tournament game. Coach Jimmy Hampton was forced to make the tough decision on whether to travel with the men or the women after both teams earned bids to the tournament. The men traveled to Missouri Valley.
“It’s great year for the girls. We are proud of them,” Hampton said. “It’s a tough loss today, but we will not let this loss define or take away from the girls’ great accomplishments.”
Immediately following the game, Vizarelis told the players how proud he and the rest of the coaching staff were of the accomplishments, hard work and constant dedication.
“I’d take you over any team in the country,” he said. “Keep your head up. You’ve set standard.”
The Drovers struggled against Point Loma, who grabbed a goal early and another 30 minutes later. They put in a final goal in the last minutes of the game.
To add fuel to the fire, USAO’s leading scorer Calli Cooper sustained an ankle injury and was forced to sit out most of the game.
“I think the girls gave everything they could,” Vizarelis said. “Like they have done all season, our girls didn’t know how to give up. They can leave the field with their heads held high.”
The Drovers end the best season in the program’s history at 15-6. Several players, including Cooper and Taylor Fain hold new season and career records for the university.
“In soccer, there’s always winners and losers,” Vizarelis said. “Unfortunately, today we lost. But every single girl is a winner in my eyes.”