FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas got its soccer season off to a successful start at home on Sunday, now the Razorbacks go on the road where they had good success last year.
Head coach Erin Aubry’s club opened the year with a 1-0 victory over Florida International on Sunday at Razorback Field.
On Friday, Arkansas plays at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas, at 7 p.m.
"They have a lot of kids from Texas and in particular from the Dallas area, which is by far one of the best youth soccer areas in the country," Aubry says. "They are going to be talented. They have a couple of dangerous attackers. Again, we need to make sure our back line is cleaned up and taking care of business. They will force us to take a step forward and get better as a team."
The Razorbacks are coming off consecutive winning seasons for the first time in program history and were 8-7-4 in Aubry’s first year last year. Included in that record was a 4-2-4 mark on the road for a .600 winning percentage. The record and percentage were the best for Arkansas since the 1996 club was 6-3 (.667) on the road.
Arkansas and SFA met in Fayetteville last year with the Razorbacks posting a 3-0 victory. Kelly O’Connor, Allie Chandler and Laurel Pastor scored goals.
Chandler, who led last year’s team with five goals, had the game-winner in the win over FIU. She scored at the 30:52 mark and the defense did the rest.
"That was a good building block for us," Aubry says. "The first 10 minutes we were working out the jitters, then we settled down and started doing some exciting things. It was a good day. We still have a lot of things to work on, but there were a lot of successes as well."
Goalkeeper Britni Williams, got the win, the 27th of her career, to move within one of the all-time school record of 28 held by Carrie Dillsaver. Williams also extended her school record of shutouts to 23 and had seven saves to reach 265 for her career, which ranks fifth.
In the match against the Panthers, Aubry went with a lineup of Williams in goal, Chandler and Erin Moskos at forward; Rachel Carlson, Camille Flores, Beth McVean and Kelsey Allison at midfielder; and Pastor, O’Connor, Melanie Foncham and Kailey Anders at defender.
The four defenders played the entire 90 minutes. Going back to last year, O’Connor has not left the field for a non-keeper team-leading eight consecutive games.
"Those kids played 90 minutes so they had time to get in sync with each other and get on the same page," Aubry says. "FIU exposed us a little and those were the moments Britni came up big for us, which is what you want your goalkeeper to do."
In its last 11 non-conference road matches, Arkansas is 9-0-2, going back to 2007.
Following the SFA match, Arkansas plays Miami and Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, Fla., and goes to Missouri and Missouri State before returning home to face St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. on Sept. 17.