Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

July 19, 2012

OU soccer standout going to FSU

NORMAN — Dria Hampton was the face of Oklahoma soccer. When the highly touted Edmond native decided to stay home and play for the Sooners in 2008, it signaled that the women’s soccer program was on the rise.

However, after three years of wearing the crimson and cream, Hampton has decided she needed a change of scenery. She will be transferring to Florida State this fall where she will finish out her soccer career.

Because of NCAA rules, Hampton will be able to play right away and not sit out a year. But as soon as the fall season concludes, she will return to Oklahoma to graduate in the spring of 2013.

“The majority of it is soccer-wise,” Hampton said. “OU is a great school. Good people. Love my teammates. More just soccer level, I was just real unhappy for a bunch of different reasons. I gave it a shot and it didn’t work out. That’s all right.”

Hampton started all 62 games she appeared in at Oklahoma and leaves with 15 career assists and 12 goals. Her 39 points are eighth best in the program’s history.

 ”OU did make me a better person and a better player,” Hampton said. “I still think I took something out of the situation even though it didn’t work out there. I still grew in ways that I wouldn’t have grown if I had went elsewhere. It was a good experience.”

Yet, that was not enough to keep Hampton at Oklahoma, which is going through regime change. Matt Potter was hired as the new head coach when Nicole Nelson stepped down following the 2011 season after four years as head coach.

When asked if she would’ve stayed at OU if Nelson had retained her job, Hampton had no comment. Yet, she admitted she had been considering leaving for a while.

“I kind of started looking in February as soon as Nelson stepped down,” Hampton said. “Then we got a new coaching staff. It was kind of what was best for me I think. The past couple years I’ve looked and didn’t want my team to think I quit on them. But this is my last go-around, and this just kind of fell into place at Florida State. It’s just kind of what I needed to do personally, I think, to be happy.”

Hampton said the Seminoles have been on her trail since she was in high school. That was one of the reasons she chose to join them.

“To be honest, it was the coaches and the players,” Hampton said. “I’m strictly going to play ball. But their coaches and program sold me as soon as I stepped on campus. I think they have been after me since I was a senior in high school. I’ve turned them down and turned them down, but they just kept coming back. They never gave up on me. That meant something to me. They just kept at it.”

One of the players Hampton will miss most is her longtime friend and teammate Caitlin Mooney, who joined the Sooners two seasons ago after one year at Maryland. They played on the same teams growing up in Edmond.

“We’ve played together for so long,” Mooney said. “For me personally, it’s kind of tough, because you like having good players around you. Dria reads me and I read her like no other player. We’ve been together that long. So it’s tough, but I know she is going to go in and make a huge impact.”

Despite the loss of Hampton, Mooney said the Sooners will be fine.

“With my team, we will just keep doing what we are doing,” Mooney said. “We have good players that are going to step up and fill her position and play to the best of their abilities.”

Hampton and Mooney are currently both members of Oklahoma FC, which will host a first-round Women’s Premier Soccer League playoff game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday  at Stars Field on the campus of Oklahoma City University. OFC (10-1-2) will take on the American Eagles Soccer Club (8-3-2).

With Hampton leaving Saturday for Tallahassee, this will be their final game together as college students.

“It’s going to be really hard,” Hampton said. “I think my freshman year was the last time I had to play without her when she went to Maryland for a year. But it’s not like I’m not coming back. I hope to partner up with her and play overseas one day. It would be a dream come true. When in doubt, we always have this to come back to this summer. She is a very special player.”

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