FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team is coming off perhaps its most disappointing loss of the 2004 season, but must rally to calm a surging Alabama Crimson Tide squad that has won two of its last three matches when the two schools face off on Sunday afternoon at Lady’Back Field in Fayetteville at 1:00 p.m.
Arkansas played toe-to-toe with the 19th-ranked Auburn Tigers on Friday evening only to fall on a goal in the 89th. In what was the Lady’Backs best performance of the season, Arkansas played with a sense of urgency in the contest which led to a near dominating opening 10 minutes of the game and what could be described as a clinic defensively. The Sunday afternoon tussle becomes even more important when looking at the Southeastern Conference standings as the Crimson Tide win on Friday moved them into second in the SEC West, while Arkansas dropped from second to fourth with its loss. The flip-flop in the standings could however be temporary if the Lady Razorbacks can defeat the Crimson Tide at home.
“This is a pivotal game for us,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “We have put the pieces in place to build a culture of success and the way we respond on Sunday is a huge step toward achieving that ultimate goal.”
Over the past four seasons, Arkansas and Alabama have battled back and forth with each team defending its own turf. The 2002 contest in Fayetteville was dominated by Arkansas who picked up a 2-0 shutout, while Alabama returned the favor in Tuscaloosa in 2003 with a 3-1 victory. The Crimson Tide has not picked up a result in Fayetteville since the 1998 season.
Alabama enters the contest with confidence as it defeated the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge on Friday, 2-1. The Crimson Tide held a 1-0 lead in the game before LSU tied the match at one, but just 20 seconds later, Alabama was on top once again, eventually holding off the Tigers for the win. Alabama enters the match with a 7-8-0 overall record and 3-4-0 mark in SEC play for nine points.
For the Lady’Backs to pick up a victory, they must continue to defend like they did in Friday’s match and at the same time take chances on the offensive end of the field. Arkansas has been quick in transition over the past several games and could catch the Crimson Tide off guard at a moments notice. Leading that charge is senior Jenni Brashear and freshman Sarah Gwisdala who have caused fits for opposing defenses.
Arkansas and Alabama square off at 1:00 p.m. at Lady’Back Field. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.