FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend as the Razorback soccer team plays host to Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
The Ole Miss game is Friday at 7 p.m. and is being televised by Cox Sports Television, which is Channel 119 in Arkansas for most Cox and Suddenlink subscribers. The Mississippi State contest is Sunday at 1 p.m.
Since Friday’s 2-1 win at Air Force, the Razorbacks lost two coaches and a game at Colorado College on Sunday.
Head coach Erin Aubry missed the CC game and practice early this week due to an illness, and assistant coach Christine Liberto missed both games and practice earlier this week due to a family matter. With Aubry and Liberto away, assistant Vanessa Phillips Bosshart coached the CC game and coordinated all practices.
Senior captain Kailey Anders says it was unusual to play without two coaches, but at this point in the season, the Razorbacks know what to do.
"There was definitely some adversity by not having our head coach and an assistant coach there because they are such big personalities, but with that said, we are SEC soccer players," Anders says. "We know how to play and warm up. We didn’t lose because our coaches weren’t there."
Anders scored both goals in the win at Air Force. She leads the club with three goals, 28 shots, 15 shots on goal, two game-winning goals and a .536 shots on goal percentage.
"Last week we worked on our attack, and getting in the box and finishing," Anders says. "I really think those two goals, with the help of my team, were because of what we worked on in practice. They weren’t the prettiest goals, but it was more our mentality."
Junior Allie Chandler is next with 21 shots, nine shots on goal and a .429 shots on goal percentage.
Ole Miss leads the all-times series with Arkansas 12-3-1, including a 7-1 edge in Fayetteville. Three of the last four meetings have gone into overtime, including last year’s 4-4 double-overtime tie in Oxford.
The Rebels are 4-3-1 this year after going 7-9-4 a year ago.
Arkansas leads the MSU series 14-2 with an 8-0 edge in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have won eight straight against the Bulldogs, including last year’s 4-0 victory in Starkville. MSU is 3-3-2 entering the weekend after going 8-12-0 last season.
"This is a big weekend for us," Anders says. "We really need to walk away with two wins. We’re capable, but we need to have a good week of practice. We have practices scheduled. We’re focused and ready, and know what we need to do."
Arkansas has started at least seven freshmen in all seven games this season. Of the 17 Razorbacks who played at Colorado College, nine were freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and two seniors.
Last time out, the starting lineup included Anders, Chandler and freshman Jeri Ann Okoro at forward, freshmen Beth Stratton, Tyler Allen and Maddee Loughlin at midfielder, freshmen Sam Wolf and Kaylyn Cooper along with sophomores Melanie Foncham and Jenn Fryrear at defender, and freshman Emily Lillard at goal keeper.
Lillard had a season-high nine saves in Sunday’s loss at CC.