FAYETTEVILLE – Starting and playing in her first game as a Lady Razorback, sophomore Tara Sageser scored two goals to lead the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team to a 3-0 home opening win against Oral Roberts University on Sunday afternoon.
The win improves the Lady Razorbacks to 2-2-0 on the season while Oral Roberts falls to 1-2-0.
“I am pleased with the possession that we had in the game and this shows the new level of fitness that we have,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “Oral Roberts did a good job of frustrating us in the midfield and seem to always score, so to come out and keep them off the scoreboard was important.”
Arkansas got on the scoreboard early when they forced a corner kick in the sixth minute. Freshman Abbey Wilburn took the kick for the Lady’Backs and sent a long ball to the far post. A streaking Megan McCool screamed for the ball and made the most of her opportunity as she knocked a header off a defender and into the net for the game’s first score at 5:47. The goal is McCool’s second of the season and Wilburn’s second assist.
The Lady Razorbacks controlled the tempo of the match for the first 15 minutes before Oral Roberts found their stride and came back with some attacks of their own, but each Golden Eagles surge was quickly dismissed by the Arkansas defense as they held ORU to just three shots in the half and six in the match.
Arkansas’ second goal came just 4:21 into the second half and this time it was Sageser that provided the fireworks. A through ball by Sageser went straight through the penalty area and was corralled by Wilburn at the edge of the 18-yard box. After beating one defender, Wilburn sent a centering pass to McCool at the edge of the six-yard box which she then held for a moment to draw the defense. McCool’s ensuing pass to the top of the six found Sageser and after a quick touch she nailed the point-blank shot for Arkansas’ second goal.
Seven minutes later it was Sageser’s turn again as she took a gift from the Oral Roberts defense and made them pay. A Golden Eagles clear from inside the six-yard box went straight to Sageser inside the penalty area allowing her to strike a brilliant ball to the far post that made the score 3-0.
Arkansas’ win is their third straight home opening victory and places them at 2-2-0 following the first four games of the year which Henderson felt were vital to Arkansas’ season.
“For us to come out of this weekend with a split is just awesome,” said Henderson. “Oral Roberts is a regionally ranked team and for us to beat them with four starters out is very good. After a 1-0 loss at Kansas who is nationally ranked and a win over a team in our region that is ranked higher than we are, I really believe that we are good enough to be regionally ranked.”
For the Lady Razorbacks as a team, the shutout against Oral Roberts is their first of the season. Headlined by senior goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver who stopped two Oral Roberts shots and is now tied for third all-time in Lady’Back history with nine career blankings. Assisting Dillsaver in the effort was the back line of Katie Taylor, Devon Burger, Megan Fawley and Katie Stauffer who looked like a well oiled machine despite missing two starters.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action next Friday night, Sept. 9, when they host Mississippi Valley State at Lady’Back Field at 7:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.