FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Megan Fawley scored the go ahead goal in the 86th minute of a 0-0 game to give the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team a 1-0 victory against the Baylor Bears in an exhibition match at Lady’Back Field Friday night.
Arkansas, who has never beaten the Bears in five career meetings, played toe-to-toe with the Big 12 opponent and controlled the tempo of the match throughout the contest. On a humid night in Fayetteville, the Lady’Backs came out of the locker room steaming as they put constant pressure on Baylor which included the game’s first shot just 2:07 into the contest.
“This is a very important game for us,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “Especially when you look at the way they beat us last year in the preseason. We are more fit, faster and stronger and that shows the steps that we have taken over the past year. I thought that the first 25 minutes were excellent for us. As with any good team though, Baylor began to solve what we were doing and came back. I was very happy with the opportunities that we created throughout the game and really liked the way our team’s response to their tempo in the second half.”
Scoreless at the half, Henderson changed his starters for the second period and sent Fawley onto the pitch for the first time. Her impact was immediate as she battled at every turn and kept Baylor on their heels from her forward position. Despite several good scoring chances that failed, Arkansas was not discouraged and finally broke through at 85:23 when an attack from the left side by Christina Burger found a streaking Fawley in the center of the goalkeeper’s box. Burger navigated through some tight spaces in the penalty area before dishing to Fawley who came down the middle of the field and struck a ball off the goalkeeper from six yards that trickled over the line. Fellow freshman Whitney Allison struck the ball hard into the back of the net for good measure, but the goal had already been awarded.
While the Arkansas-Baylor match may just be an exhibition game for both sides, it was an important match for the Lady Razorbacks who were able to see what they could do and also how their eight newcomers would perform in top notch competition. The results were excellent on both accounts as the Lady’Backs picked up confidence from the win and learned that their new players are gamers that leave everything on the field.
Even though the Lady Razorbacks only scored one goal, the tally wasn’t the only shot that may have gone in. Just five minutes into the contest, Arkansas was awarded a corner kick from the left side of the goal. Freshman Abbey Wilburn took the free kick for the Lady Razorbacks and sent a beautiful cross to the far post, nine yards out that senior Megan McCool struck with her head toward the bottom corner. Had it not been for the quick feet of a Baylor defender standing on the post, the Lady Razorbacks may have taken a 1-0 lead early in the contest as the ball was sent flying back away from the Baylor net.
The Lady Razorbacks open the regular season next Friday night, August 26, at the University of Tulsa. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.