FAYETTEVILLE – After playing four of its last five games on the road, Arkansas’ soccer team is at home on Friday to close the season with the 7 p.m. Southeastern Conference contest against LSU.
In addition to other promotions, Friday’s game is part of UA’s Red + White = Pink initiative, which supports the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The initiative designates five home pink events for the year, one each for soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, women’s basketball and softball.
The official Red + White = Pink t-shirt serves as a ticket to the five athletic events. Fans can use the t-shirt for admittance to Friday’s soccer game. The Pink t-shirt is available for $15 and a portion of the proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation-Ozark affiliate. The t-shirts are now available at Hog Heaven in Bud Walton Arena and Academy Sports + Outdoors in its Fort Smith and Rogers locations. Fans in attendance Friday can also pledge a dollar amount toward the Foundation at the Susan G. Komen Foundation table in the soccer stadium. In addition to the t-shirt promotion, the first 500 fans receive pink wristbands. There’s also the Hogwild Kick for Cash finale at halftime. All nine previous winners from this season are invited back to kick for $1000, rather than the $100 in previous games to qualify for this week’s final.
The Razorbacks are coming off Sunday’s 3-1 loss at South Carolina, which earned at least a share of the SEC regular-season title.
LSU comes in 12-6-1 overall and 7-3-0 in the SEC, and is playing for a share of the league title.
"We’re excited to be back home," head coach Erin Aubry says. "It’s always a lift to be in front of our crowd. LSU is a rival and we’re always up for that game. Our focus is to execute. Our mentality is really good right now."
Arkansas played perhaps its best game of the year in its last home contest, a 2-1 overtime setback to No. 8 Florida on Oct. 20. Allie Chandler scored three minutes into the game and the Razorbacks led for 76 minutes. Arkansas took the Gators to overtime before losing for the third time this year to a team ranked in the top 10.
"Everybody had a job to do and they did it correctly," Aubry says of the Florida game. "We were disappointed to give up the game in overtime, but we came out feeling pretty good about ourselves."
The Razorbacks enter the LSU game second in the SEC with 6.12 saves per game. Chandler is second in shots with 4.47 and goal keeper Emily Lillard is second in saves (103) and saves per game (6.06).
Lillard has 103 saves for the year and is just three away from matching the school freshman record of 106 set by Megan Bals in 1999. She has highs of 11 at Auburn, and nine against Florida and Colorado College.
Chandler leads the team with 76 shots and 26 shots on goal, and she’s third with two goals and a .342 shots on goal percentage. Freshman Beth Stratton, who scored at USC on Sunday, is second on the team with three goals and a .483 shots on goal percentage, and is third with 29 shots and 14 shots on goal.
"Beth is so crafty and creative," Aubry says. "We’ve encouraged her to go to goal and take shots. She’s been a little up and down in consistency, but she has grown and continues to stay the course."
The Razorbacks celebrated Senior Day early in the year, but Friday’s game is the final home contest for five seniors. Forward Kailey Anders, midfielder Chelsea Tidwell and goal keeper Kendal Winston are true seniors. Goal keeper Brittany Hudson and forward Daniella O’Shea are juniors athletically but seniors academically and expected to graduate early.
Anders missed the Auburn and Florida games with an injury and played just 10 minutes at South Carolina. The team leader with four goals, two assists, two game-winning goals and 10 points, she may or may not play on Friday.
Tidwell, meanwhile, has given the team a spark.
"She’s a good story," Aubry says. "She had a great week of practice last week and was a difference-maker for us. We didn’t want to take her off the field against Florida and she started at South Carolina."