FAYETTEVILLE – Coming off another solid weekend of Southeastern Conference action, the second-place University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team returns to the friendly confines of Lady’Back Field after a four-match road swing to face the 19th-ranked Auburn University Tigers on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m.
The Lady Razorbacks faired well on their four-match SEC tour going a combined 1-2-1, but now must face the SEC Western Division leaders in what could be a critical conference matchup. Auburn enters the match as the favorite, but the Lady Razorbacks have always played the Tigers close, especially at home. In Arkansas’ last two meetings with the Auburn at Lady’Back Field, Arkansas is 1-1-0 with a 3-2 victory in 2000 and a gut-wrenching 2-1 double overtime loss in 2002.
Arkansas knows that it must play well over its next three matches should it have any hope of playing in the SEC Championship Tournament in Nov. Sitting at second place in the log jam of the SEC’s Western Division, Arkansas’ 2-2-2 overall record yields eight points and is just one point ahead of Mississippi State (seven) and two ahead of both Alabama and Ole Miss (six). The Lady Razorbacks advantage on the weekend is that they are at home while the rest of the aforementioned teams must play on the road.
Auburn enters the Friday night affair with a solid lead in the division and a nearly unblemished SEC record. The proud owners of 16 points, Auburn has gone 5-0-1 in SEC play with its lone tie coming on the road at Vanderbilt. Coincidentally, Arkansas defeated the Commodores, 2-1, at Lady’Back Field on Sept. 24 in front of the seventh largest crowd in Arkansas history. The pro-Lady Razorback crowd made a huge difference in the contest as it helped Arkansas score the game-winning goal in the final moments of the contest.
In order to secure a tie or a victory against the Tigers, Arkansas knows that it must continue to play stellar defense. The Lady’Backs have employed a team-wide philosophy of defense first and the beneficiary of that implementation has been sophomore goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver. Dillsaver is the SEC leader in saves for the second-straight week and ranks among the SEC’s and Arkansas’ all-time bests in every statistical category. Her fifth shutout of the season against Georgia last Sunday matched Arkansas’ total from the 1999 season and is three away from the Lady’Backs record for blankings in a single season set in 1996.