The University of Oklahoma is an incredibly successful sporting institution. Nonetheless, soccer is not something that comes to mind when one thinks of OU. Kaylee Dao has the ability to change that.
When you think of Oklahoma, you are likely to think of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Native Americans, or perhaps a certain musical. Moreover, when you think of the sporting juggernaut that is the University of Oklahoma, you think about Heisman Trophies, BIG XII College Football Championships, gymnastics championships, and softball championships. Soccer certainly does not come to mind.
When it comes to Women’s Soccer, the University has not enjoyed comparable success since its establishment in 1996. Individual awards have not been difficult to come by, but as a team, OU has failed to win any sort of silverware.
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Furthermore, it was confirmed to me by a member of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) press office “that no one from the University of Oklahoma has ever been drafted into the NWSL.” Mexican international Renae Cuéllar, who enjoyed a historic senior season in Norman after transferring from the University of Arizona, appeared for FC Kansas City, Seattle Reign, and the Washington Spirit – she scored the first-ever NWSL goal – but she was not selected in an NWSL Draft. Instead, she was allocated to the now-defunct FC Kansas City in 2013, the founding season of the NWSL.
Nonetheless, Kaylee Dao could become the first University of Oklahoma player to ever be drafted into the NWSL. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native, who arrived as one of the nation’s top 100 players (Top Drawer Soccer graded her as a four-star recruit, 81st overall) in 2015 after a standout career at Jenks H.S., will finish her college career following the conclusion of this upcoming season, and has all the traits and characteristics that you look for in a professional.
Capable of playing throughout the midfield spine and as a striker, Dao is fiercely competitive. She throws herself into every tackle and aerial duel, can navigate her way out of tight situations and is always in the thick of the action. You can often tell that she is thinking two steps ahead of others on the field.
Besides being pugnacious and an aerial threat, Dao is also incredibly competent in possession. She is guilty of doing too much at times, but you are happy to let that slide when you acknowledge that she is the beating heart of the Oklahoma team. She has made 59 appearances (57 starts) since arriving on campus and has earned All-Big 12 first-team honors on two occasions (2017, 2018) in the utility spot.
Last season, she started all 19 games and led the team with six goals on the year. She added a pair of assists to lead Oklahoma with 14 points. Dao received Academic All-Big 12 recognition for the second time and was also named to the All-Midwest Region second team by United Soccer Coaches, becoming just the seventh Sooner to earn all-region honors in her career.
Dao has also enjoyed an incredible summer with the Sounders Women of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). She registered six goals and two assists in eleven games, which was instrumental in helping them win the West Region. If she can continue her incredible form throughout the fall, she stands a good chance of being drafted in the 2020 NWSL Draft.
The Oklahoma Sooners will return to action next month when they host Albany at John Crain Field. Collectively, the women in crimson and cream may struggle to topple Baylor, West Virginia, and Texas Tech in the BIG XII Conference, but Kaylee Dao has the talent to go a long way.