By Jennifer Van Tuyl
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
University of Oklahoma junior forward Whitney Palmer is having a record-setting season.
She has 14 goals, 30 points, four consecutive games with a goal, three multi-goal games, two assists in one game. The 14 goals are an OU single-season record and she is currently tied for fifth in the country for goals scored. Palmer has been climbing the charts and now stands in the top five in eight different career categories for Oklahoma.
OU fans have taken notice of Palmer's tenacious play, ankle-breaking moves and Usain Bolt like speed. Those skills make her difficult to defend and one of the best players in the country.
"She is a unique explosive athlete and I'm not talking just speed, I'm talking about power," OU soccer coach Nicole Nelson said. "If you look at her stats and the amount of shots she takes, and the amount that are on goal and how many are goals, they are really high. She is one of the best finishers in the conference and in the country."
This season against Tulsa, Palmer recorded a hat trick in the Sooners' 3-1 victory. Palmer's post-game response centered on the victory, not her three goals. And Palmer knows that her teammates are instrumental to her success.
"They mean a lot to me," said Palmer, who has 28 career goals. "Just being out there on the field and talking to each other. Trying to just keep everyone's heads in the game because without us being together on the field we can't get anything done."
The statistics are notable but Nelson uses two words to describe Palmer's impact on OU soccer - program changer.
"She sets a standard for those who are coming into the program," Nelson said. "It is a new standard for Oklahoma soccer and that is what we have talked about over the last year two years since I have been here, that we are taking OU soccer some place it hasn't been. Whitney is evidence of doing that. She has set records, broken records and been more successful than any other goal scorer in program history."
Being a "program changer" or record setter wasn't on Palmer's to do list when she came to Oklahoma. Her goals were to grow as a player, a person and receive an education.
"I came here to get an education and to take my game up to the next level and not settle for anything less than I can achieve," said Palmer, who is from Plano, Texas. "I think just me working as hard as I can has paid off."
Her coach thinks the sky is the limit for Palmer.
"She has proven that she has the commitment, work ethic, talent and athletic explosiveness to play at the highest level," Nelson said. "That is her goal and she would be very capable of not only continuing to affect this program in a tremendous way over the next year and a half and she will have the ability to play at the next level."
Playing professional soccer is a goal of Palmer's but she said she has one more goal to achieve before she leaves Oklahoma - a Big 12 Championship.