FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ soccer team looks to remain unbeaten in the Southeastern Conference when the Razorbacks play host to Georgia on Friday at 7 p.m. and No. 10 Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Razorback Field.
Friday’s game is being televised by Fox Sports Net, which is Fox Sports Southwest in Arkansas.
The Razorbacks are one of three unbeaten teams in SEC play, joining Auburn and LSU as the early leaders in the league both overall and in the Western Division.
Arkansas jumped out to a 2-0 start with last week’s 2-1 overtime win over Ole Miss and the 1-0 victory over Mississippi State.
"We’re really excited," head coach Erin Aubry says. "We were at the right place and in the right time to start having success and get the results we wanted. To come away with two (SEC) wins is really hard to do. On Sunday at halftime, when we were locked in a tie, we talked about the difference between being a good team in the SEC and a great team. We chose, as a team, to be a great team and we acted upon it and came away with our second win."
Georgia comes in 7-3-0 overall and 1-1-0 in the SEC. Last year, Arkansas battled the No. 17 Bulldogs to a 0-0, double-overtime tie in Athens.
Georgia leads the all-time series 8-2-3, including 5-0-1 in Fayetteville. Two years ago, in the last meeting at Razorback Field, Georgia claimed a 2-0 victory.
Tennessee enters the weekend 8-2-0 overall and 1-1-0 in the SEC. UT leads the series 10-1-1 with a 4-0-1 edge in Fayetteville. UT is No. 10 in the Soccer Times poll while Georgia is receiving votes.
"Both teams are having outstanding seasons," Aubry says. "Both are very talented. We have to elevate our level of sophistication to match them. The nice thing is in our non-conference schedule, we played really good, quality teams. This is not the first time our young squad has seen teams on the level of Georgia and Tennessee."
Non-conference games included No. 2 Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Kansas.
Following the 2-0 start in conference play, goal keeper Emily Lillard was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week. She was credited with both wins after allowing just one goal with 11 saves in 182:20 minutes. Lillard had a 0.49 goals against average and a .917 saves percentage.
"She’s been a lot more focused over the last two weekends," Aubry says. "We’ve adjusted her training to suit her learning style. She will also be the first to tell you the team has stepped up. We put her under more pressure than we should have. Asking her to make three or four big saves in a game instead of 20 is helpful. The team has stepped up and is keeping the ball out of the 18, and that helps, too."
In SEC play only, Lillard leads the league in goals against average, is tied for first in shutouts, second in saves percentage and third in saves. Junior Allie Chandler, who had the game-winner against MSU, is first in shots (14) and shots per game (7.0) while senior Kailey Anders is third in assists (2) and assists per game (1.0).
Anders leads the team with three goals, two assists, eight points, two game-winning goals, 35 shots, 18 shots on goal and a .514 shots on goal percentage. Chandler is tied for first with 35 shots, and is second with 13 shots on goal and a .371 shots on goal percentage.
Lillard is one of seven freshmen in Aubry’s starting lineup. The others are forward Jeri Ann Okoro, midfielders Margo Davis, Tyler Allen and Maddee Loughlin, and defenders Sam Wolf and Kaylyn Cooper. The other starters are Anders and Chandler at forward, and sophomores Melanie Foncham and Jenn Fryrear at defender.