FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Riding a six-game winning streak, the Arkansas soccer team will travel to Oxford, Miss., to take on the Rebels in the 2008 Southeastern Conference opener Friday at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium at 6 p.m. CT. The Razorbacks’ 7-1 non-conference record equals the program’s best start entering league play since the 2006 season.
Arkansas will be looking to build on momentum gained from a 10-goal, two-shutout weekend in games against Western Michigan and Nicholls St. Lindsay Patterson led the scoring charge with four goals and an assist during the two games. The senior forward was recognized by the league as the SEC offensive player of the week for her nine-point performance. Sophomore goalkeeper Britni Williams continued her strong non-conference play by registering her fifth shutout of the season in Arkansas’ 3-0 win over Western Michigan.
Heading into conference play, Arkansas is tied for the SEC lead in goals scored (21) with LSU. The Razorbacks are the league leaders in points (63), assists (21) and shutouts (six). They have outscored their opponents, 21-4, through the non-conference schedule.
Individually, Kelly O’Connor is tied for the SEC lead with five goals and 11 points. Patterson, in just three games played, is tied for eighth with nine points and owns a share of sixth place with four goals. Kailey Anders and Rachel Carlson are among a group tied for sixth in the conference with three assists.
Williams is tied for the conference lead with five shutouts and is second in the SEC with a 0.52 goals against average, which is also good for 22nd in the NCAA. Arkansas’ team goals against average of 0.488 is 18th in the nation.
Ole Miss (2-4-2) enters conference play off a 1-0 loss at Middle Tennessee. The Rebels return nine starters from last year’s squad, including all-conference performers defender Danielle Johnson (first team) and midfielder Amy Bayles (second). On the season, the Rebels are led offensively by Jennifer Hance who has five goals. Ole Miss was 4-4-3 during SEC play last season and finished third in the western division.
In 13 all-time meetings between the two teams, Ole Miss leads Arkansas, 11-2-0, including last year’s 2-1 overtime win in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have lost 11 straight in the series with their last win coming on a 3-2 victory in 1996, which is also the last time UA won in Oxford.
Last season, then-freshman O’Connor gave Arkansas the early 1-0 lead with a 30-yard shot at the 14:05 mark. The Razorbacks seemed poised for the win but Hance scored in the 89th minute of the game and then sealed the win for Ole Miss with another goal 5:22 into overtime. It was the first of three conference overtime losses on the year for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks are 5-8-1 all-time in SEC openers and have lost three straight. The team’s last win in a conference opener came during the 2004 season, a 2-1 victory over Vanderbilt. The Arkansas-Ole Miss game start time was pushed up an hour as the Friday’s presidential campaign will be held at 8 p.m. on the University of Mississippi campus.
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