An Early Fall: While still mid August, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team is prepping for the fall with its first (and only) exhibition soccer match of the year slated for Wednesday, Aug. 18, in Waco, Texas, against Baylor University.
Two-a-Days: The Lady Razorbacks arrived on campus Aug. 10 and since then have been through the aches and pains of two-a-day practices. Continuing to push themselves, the Lady’Backs will conduct two-a-days through the first exhibition game before backing off to prepare for the regular season.
A Measuring Stick: Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson has a plan and one part calls for evaluating the talent on the field and seeing what the best fits are. That said, he plans to use the Baylor exhibition match as a measuring stick to see where Arkansas is from a fitness standpoint as well as from a technical stance. He was pleased with the work that went into his spring scrimmages and hopes that the freshmen class can add to what has already been built.
Arkansas vs. Baylor: While not a regular season game, one can still look at the all-time series between Arkansas and Baylor to gauge where the teams stand. The 2004 preseason meeting is the fourth between the two squads with Baylor holding a commanding 2-0-1 advantage. The last meeting between the two squads came in the fall of 2000 when the Lady’Backs forced a 1-1 tie in Waco, Texas.
New Coach: On December 16, 2003, the Lady Razorbacks hired Gordon Henderson as the sixth coach in University of Arkansas women’s soccer history. A native of Scotland, Henderson is the second non-American head coach in the program’s history and has a history of building programs both at North Dakota State and Idaho State. A believer in fitness and quality, Henderson has already had his team running more and working on the little things that make teams go from good to great.
What Henderson Inherits: Asked to turn the fortunes of the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer program, Henderson inherits a team that went 7-10-2 and capped off the season with its best record since 1996. He has a solid core of freshmen and sophomores and must evaluate the 19 returning players when spring workouts begin.
Best Season Since: The Lady Razorback’s 2003 record of 7-10-2 is their best since 1996 when they went 11-7-3. It’s .421 winning percentage was a tad higher than the .404 percentage Arkansas posted in the fall of 2000, but not quite the .595 percentage in 96.
Parallels to 1995: The Lady Razorback’s 2003 season draws an alarming similarity to the 1995 season in which Arkansas posted a 5-13-1 record. In that year, the Lady’Backs opened the year hot at 3-2-1, then won only two of their next 13 games including a nine-game losing streak to end the season. In 2003, Arkansas opened the year 3-3-2 but swooned near the end of the season dropping five consecutive games in conference play.
1996 and 2004: While Arkansas’ 1995 season ended on a sour note, the team rebounded in 1996 to have its best season in Arkansas’ 18-year history. Finishing the season 11-7-3 with a .595 winning percentage, Arkansas posted school records for both wins and percentage on its way to the SEC Western Division Title. Could 2004 be similar to the 1996 season? Only time will tell.
Preseason Camp: The Lady Razorbacks spent part of their preseason away from Fayetteville, attempting to get away from the distractions of campus life. The time was used mainly for team bonding and fitness training and should help the Lady Razorbacks in the future.
Leading Scorer: Arkansas’ top returning scorer is Christina Burger, but the big question for the sophomore from Southlake, Texas, is where will she play? Spending the majority of her time in 2003 at outside midfield and forward, Burger has shown an affinity to play any position and has spent a large part of her preseason at center mid. Last season Burger tallied six goals and two assists for 14 points.
Two Goals in 17 Seconds: It has only been done 17 times before, but Christina Burger scored two goals in 17 seconds against Kentucky to at least tie for 18th on the NCAAs fastest goals scored list. Only the 11th individual to score both goals in that time span, Burger netted her pair in nearly identical fashions from the right side. The NCAA record you might ask, five seconds between goals.
Veteran Team: For several seasons, Arkansas has been labeled as a young team and with the influx of freshman over the past three seasons, there is no question about that. In 2004, those newbies have grown up and Arkansas now has seven upperclassmen. While still heavy in the sophomore area with eight second-year players, two of those are on campus for their third seasons.
Good Test: Arkansas’ match with Baylor should be a good test for the Lady Razorbacks to see how they fair on the road. The Lady Razorbacks are scheduled to play 11 of their 19 matches away from the friendly confines of Lady’Back Field including the season opener against Southeast Missouri State University.
Lone Senior: Jenni Brashear is Arkansas’ lone senior on the active roster in 2004. Hailing from Little Rock, Ark., Brashear has been a four-year starter for the Lady Razorbacks and has played multiple positions. The 2004 season could showcase Brashear at her original position, forward, after spending the past two seasons as a stalwart defender.
Goals When it Counts: Jenni Brashear had a flare for the dramatic during her freshman year when she tallied three goals and an assist. The drama that she caused was usually directed toward Arkansas’ opponents and came in the form of a knife to the gut as she scored two game winners and a game-tying goal. Her first career tally came at the expense of Mississippi State, followed by a pair of knocks against LSU, one to force overtime in the final moments of regulation and the other to win the contest in extra time.
Freshmen Breaking In: No one really knows who will start and who will come off the bench for the Lady Razorbacks this season, but it is safe to say that many of the five freshmen on the roster should see significant playing time this fall. With only 18 active players on the roster, Arkansas will likely use its whole bench during games.
A September to Remember: The Lady Razorbacks were stunning in the month of September in 2003, going 4-1-2 during the month. Arkansas’ only loss was to a Purdue team that was in and out of the rankings all season. Victories came at the expense of Arizona, Oral Roberts, George Mason and Drury. Another September like that and Arkansas could be in for a treat this fall.
Returning Starter: If there is one thing for sure, its that Carrie Dillsaver will start in goal for the Lady Razorbacks this fall. The only goalkeeper with experience on the roster, Dillsaver was Arkansas’ starter last season and did a fabulous job between the posts as she accumulated a 1.92 goals against average in an Arkansas record 1,549 minutes played by a freshman.
Record Setter: Carrie Dillsaver beat out a senior for the starting goalkeeper’s position in 2003 and after doing so, set the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback record for minutes played in goal by a freshman. Ironically, Dillsaver broke the record that had been set four years earlier by the same senior whom she beat out for the starting position.
Already One of the Best: The University of Arkansas has tradition when it comes to soccer, 18 years of tradition and to say that Carrie Dillsaver is already one of the best to play says something. After one season, she ranks among Arkansas’ all-time best in games played, games started, wins, minutes, shots faced, saves, goals against average and shutouts.
McCool to Miss First Game: Junior Megan McCool gets to see action against Baylor in Arkansas’ exhibition match, but the Bethany, Okla., native must sit against Southeast Missouri State next weekend. McCool accumulated her fifth yellow card in Arkansas’ season finale against Oklahoma State in 2003 requiring her to miss one game as a result.