FAYETTEVILLE – Last week’s game was an exhibition but the University of Arkansas soccer team starts the season for real this weekend when the Razorbacks play host to Florida International on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Razorback Field.Arkansas won last year’s meeting, 2-0, at FIU. The series is tied 2-2. Prior to last year, the teams had not met since 1994 when Arkansas claimed a 4-1 victory in Orlando.
"Last year, they were very, very scrappy," head coach Erin Aubry says. "They were highly motivated and organized, and they won their conference championship. We know they are even better this year. We have to work very hard or they will expose us."
FIU went 11-6-3 overall last year and won the Sun Belt Conference with a 9-1-1 record.
The Razorbacks got a taste of game action last week with Saturday’s 1-1 tie at Saint Louis. Aubry played 23 different student-athletes. Allie Chandler’s goal off an Yvonne Desjarlais assist late in the first half and goalkeeper Britni Williams’ save in the final 30 seconds earned the tie for Arkansas.
"We played a lot of people," Aubry says. "We have a lot more talent and depth than last year. We need to make decisions and plug some people into holes, which we’ve done the last few days. We need to get those players more involved in our training."
In the exhibition, Aubry started a lineup of Ally Atkins and Erin Moskos at forward; Rachel Carlson, Camille Flores, Beth McVean and Kelsey Allison at midfield; Laurel Pastor, Kailey Anders, Lauren Hallauer and Evan Palmer at defender; and Kendal Winston at goalkeeper.
Eight starters are back from last year, including Pastor, Allison, McVean, Anders and Hallauer, along with Chandler at forward, defender Kelly O’Connor and goalkeeper Britni Williams.
Williams enters the season first in school history with 22 career shutouts, second with 26 victories and fifth with 258 saves.
The Razorbacks were 8-7-4 last year, making Aubry the first first-year head coach in program history to record a winning record. Arkansas was 11-8-0 in 2008 and coming off consecutive winning seasons for the first time.
Promotions for Sunday include a giveaway of schedule cards and schedule posters, and a drawing for a pair of tickets to the Alabama football game on Sept. 25.