FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas' soccer team opens its season with a pair of home games this weekend, beginning with Friday's 7 p.m. contest against Austin Peay at Razorback Field.
Arkansas is also at home on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game against Texas.
After going through the spring exhibition season and last week's exhibition at Oklahoma State, first-year head coach Colby Hale officially directs the Razorbacks for the first time on Friday.
"It's exciting," he says. "It's our first home game. Our expectations are high in terms of the things we talk about every day and who we are as a team. At home, we expect to go out and perform well."
Austin Peay was 9-7-1 a year ago, including 3-4-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series 2-0, winning 2-0 at home in 2007 and 1-0 at APSU in 2008.
"Austin Peay has a couple of kids who can score goals," Hale says. "They are extremely hard-working and this will be a good test. They will be talented, well-coached and organized."
Through the spring season and fall camp, Hale has seen the Razorbacks make progress in adapting to his style.
"The kids have worked extremely hard," Hale says. "We got out of preseason camp what we needed to get out of it. You can't fix everything in a week and a half so we had a plan of what we wanted to be good at. We've seen great improvement individually and as a group. After the game, what is the other team going to say about us? We want them to say 'that's a team we don't want to play again.'"
Last week's exhibition at Oklahoma State was also a good test. The Cowgirls are ranked No. 5 in the nation and recorded a 4-0 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville last year. OSU won Saturday's exhibition 2-0.
"OSU is very good," Hale says. "They won the Big 12 and went to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. We liked the game because it gave us an opportunity to get exposed in a few areas. Sometimes if you win, it gives you a false sense of hope. What we were disappointed in is fixable. We gave the ball away without much pressure and our support off the ball wasn't good, but our overall defending was good. Our goalkeeper (Kelly Roliard) played well and the back four fought hard in the box."