Six Splits: For the sixth time in eight weekends, the University of Arkansas split its decisions by picking up a much needed road win at South Carolina, then falling the 19th-ranked Florida Gators at home. Led by solid defense and the scoring prowess of Christina Burger, Arkansas yielded just two goals on the weekend while Burger scored twice against the Gamecocks.
Back-to-Back Wins: The last time the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks won back-to-back matches (Alabama & South Carolina) in Southeastern Conference play was Oct. 13 & 15, 2000 when it beat Auburn and Alabama at Lady’Back Field.
Two Road Wins: While Arkansas’ last back-to-back wins in conference play came in 2000, you have to go back to 1999 to find the last time they won two Southeastern Conference games on the road in the same season. That instance involved Auburn and Alabama on the same weekend.
Nine Points: With Arkansas’ win over South Carolina last Friday night, it earned three points in the SEC standings and now sit at nine, very close to the predicted total that would allow teams to compete at the SEC Tournament (10).
Win or Tie and Your In: The Lady Razorbacks are currently the eighth seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament if the season were to end today, but unfortunately for the Lady’Backs there is still one game to play. The good news for Arkansas is that a win or a tie would give them the eighth seed in the SEC Tournament, but the bad news is a loss to LSU on Friday night would send the Tigers to Orange Beach, Ala.
Down to the Final Game, Again: It seems like it happens every year, Arkansas’ game with the LSU Tigers means something. Some years it is for bragging rights, but many times it has been for a spot at the SEC Championships and 2005 is one of those years. Arkansas and LSU are the only two teams that have not clinched a tournament berth or been eliminated from contention making it the game that will be on people’s radar as they determine who will participate in the SEC Championships in Orange Beach, Ala.
The LSU Tigers: With a new head coach, the LSU Tigers have made strides in their pursuit of an SEC Tournament berth, but still need to win to make the eight-team field. With a pair of losses over the weekend to Florida and South Carolina, LSU remained at seven points and just two wins and a tie against SEC competition. In order for LSU to play next weekend they must beat Arkansas in Fayetteville, a place they have ever won at.
Arkansas Versus LSU: The Lady Razorbacks own a slight advantage over the LSU Tigers in their all-time series 5-4-1. Arkansas is the only team to win two straight matches with their victories in 1996 and 1997, but since then it has been the home team that has dominated. Over the past eight meetings, the home team has won the annual grudge match except for 2002 when the teams played to a 1-1 tie.
The 2004 Game: With an SEC tournament berth on the line, Arkansas needed a win and help to play in the post season, but what they got was a tough outing as the LSU Tigers played their best on senior night in Baton Rouge and walked off the field with a 3-0 victory.
Career Highs: Thanks to her two goals against South Carolina, Christina Burger eclipsed her previous career highs in both goals (6) and points (15). On Sept. 16, her assist against Liberty was also a career high. She now has seven goals, four assists and 18 points for the season.
Career Rankings: Christina Burger’s career highs in 2005 give her a two-plus year total of 18 goals, eight assists and 44 points which rank her 10th in career scoring and eighth in goals scored in Arkansas history.
Burger Nets Fourth Game Winner: Junior Christina Burger has a knack for the important goals and that has shown itself this year. Of her seven scores this season, four have won games for the Lady Razorbacks including her score against South Carolina, while another has tied a match. Her fourth game-winner of the season places her in a three-way tie for second on Arkansas’ all-time list for a single season.
First Game Winners: Christina Burger has four game-winning goals this season and has had some big goals over her first two years, but interestingly, she had never tallied a game winner until her score against Tulsa to open the 2005 season. Prior to 2005, Burger had scored two game-tying goals which tie her for 10th on Arkansas’ all-time list.
First Multi-Goal Game Since: Christina Burger’s two-goal effort against Southeastern Louisiana matched her career high for goals in a game and was the first time she has accomplished the feat since Oct. 5, 2003 when she netted two goals in 17 seconds against the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.
Two in One Season: There is a reason that opposing teams watch where Christina Burger is going with and without the ball and that is because she is dangerous. Burger scored twice in a single game against Southeastern Louisiana and then did it for the second time in 2005 against South Carolina.
Only the Fourth: Christina Burger’s goal against Mississippi State was not only the game winner that Arkansas needed, but it was also historic as it made Burger just the fourth Lady Razorback in their 20-year history to post 10 points in a season for three consecutive seasons.
First Since 2003: If Christina Burger can record two more points this season she will become the first Lady Razorback to score 20 points in a single season since Julie Williford in 2003. A 20-point season would also make her just the ninth Lady Razorback to ever record that many.
The SEC Standings: With just one game left to play in the regular season, teams are vying for placement in the SEC Tournament and also to see who will earn the conference’s regular season championship. Currently Arkansas and LSU are battling for the eighth spot overall, but also for the third position in the SEC’s Western Division. The east leading Tennessee Lady Vols continue to remain in the drivers seat for the regular season title, but western division leader Ole Miss is on its heels. Ole Miss and Tennessee have already clinched their respective division titles.
Christina Who, Devon Comes Through: While her younger sister gets most of the headlines thanks to her goal scoring prowess, it should be known that without Devon Burger, Arkansas’ situation could be much worse. On a injury riddled defense, Burger has been nothing but solid at left outside back.
Two Goal Line Saves: It is rare to do it once, but Devon Burger did it twice in two games, and that is make a save on the goal line to preserve a tie. Coming on set plays in both instances, Burger stayed on the post and booted two balls out of harms way.
What a Finish: Senior Carrie Dillsaver has been a force for the Lady Razorbacks in goal all season and that was never more evident than in Arkansas’ matches in the latter part of the year where she has come up big in every match. Against Auburn she made a career high 12 saves including one on a penalty kick. In the South Carolina match she picked up an additional three saves including one that forced her to dive to her left to prevent a one-vs-one scoring opportunity and has surrendered just 11 goals over the last nine matches which included two games against top 20 opponents.
Most Since: Carrie Dillsaver’s 12-save effort against Auburn is the most since Oct. 18, 2002 when Lindsay Haywood knocked down 13 shots against Auburn. Dillsaver’s effort is also the third most in an SEC game in Arkansas history.
Winding Down: As the 2005 season closes, Carrie’ Dillsaver’s position in Arkansas lore is settled. Moving into second all-time in games started and shots faced, should she start the rest of the season she will finish with 54 starts, six behind all-time leader Molly Myers. Her 18th win against South Carolina moved her into third alone.
Where She Stands Now: Carrie Dillsaver continues to creep ever closer to the Lady Razorback’s career goalkeeping records. She started her 53rd career game (second), notched her 18th win (third), faced her 660th shot (second), made her 251st save (fifth), dropped her goals against average to 1.58 (second) and recorded her 11th shutout (third).
A Rock in Goal: The Lady Razorbacks have been blessed throughout the years with solid goalkeeping and that trend continues with senior Carrie Dillsaver. A three-year starter, Dillsaver has been integral to Arkansas’ success and her ability to come up with the big save is known throughout the league. Over the previous two seasons, Dillsaver started all 36 games she had played in and tallied a solid 1.66 goals against average.
Setting Records: While Carrie Dillsaver continues to move up the Arkansas career charts, she is also locked into a few Lady Razorback records. She has six Arkansas class records including minutes played as a freshman and sophomore, goals against average, and shutouts and starts as a sophomore.
Injury Update: The Lady Razorbacks have been hit by injuries all season. Senior Andrea Sparks had knee surgery in September and made her way back to the field for the Mississippi State-Ole Miss weekend, but had complications that doctors are looking at which will prevent her from playing the rest of the season. Junior Allison Harris is likely out for the remainder of the season as well with her right MCL, while sophomore Alison Harter had her walking boot removed and has begun light jogging.
Returned to Action: Of all the injuries the Lady Razorbacks have faced this season, some have healed including Sarah Gwisdala’s ankle which caused problems throughout September. Katie Stauffer’s back was an issue early, but that has been taken care of as have her numerous illnesses. Junior Katie Hamilton seems to have strengthened her back enough to play as she has added valuable minutes to Arkansas’ front line.
Lineup Changes: Due to the rash of injuries, the Lady Razorbacks have had to be creative with their personnel and the result is nine different starting lineups in 17 games. Perhaps those starting 11 are settled as head coach Gordon Henderson used the same starting 11 for just seventh time this year against Florida last weekend, but otherwise the only two times Arkansas used the same 11 were in games one and two and six through eight. Most of the season it has been musical positions as players have compensated for the loss of their teammates.
One Goal Matches: The Lady Razorbacks have been right there in all but one game this season and that is evidenced by Arkansas’ 12 one-goal matches. Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, they have come out on the losing end of those tight games nine times, but perhaps that trend is changing as they notched their third win in a one-goal game against South Carolina.
SEC Freshman of the Week: Thanks to her goal and assist against Alabama, Abbey Wilburn was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. Wilburn tallied the first goal of her career in the 37th minute, then was the key player in Sarah Gwisdala’s goal that won the contest. Wilburn is the first Lady Razorback to earn an SEC Freshman of the Week honor, an award that the conference office began issuing at the start of the 2005 season.
Silent in Her Scoring: While Christina Burger and Megan McCool are getting the headlines with their goals, Abbey Wilburn has quietly amassed a great freshman season as she has scored once and assisted on four other goals for six points which ranks third on the Lady Razorback roster in 2005. Her goal and two assists in Southeastern Conference play place her tied for second in scoring with McCool who has two goals.
Almost There: If Abbey Wilburn can notch one more assist this fall she’ll move into a tie for third in Arkansas history for assists as a freshman. Currently, she is fourth with four. The Arkansas freshman record for assists in a year is 12 by former Lady’Back Amy VanLaecke.
Newcomers Getting Plenty of Time: The Lady Razorback newcomers are seeing plenty of action this fall as all eight have seen the field at one point or another and five have made starts. Abbey Wilburn and Megan Fawley have each started all 17 Lady Razorback contests with Leah Collison, Lindsay Patterson and Tara Sageser each getting one start.
Fawley Gets Credit: Megan Fawley came up big for the Lady Razorbacks in their preseason win against Baylor Univ., when she scored the game’s only goal from a midfielder position. Moved to defense for the regular season due to injury, Fawley hasn’t had any chances to get on the scoreboard, that is until the South Carolina match when she assisted on Christina Burger’s first score. The assist is the first point of Fawley’s young career.
A Tremendous Asset: If Arkansas’ coaches had the luxury of a completely healthy lineup with no significant injuries, Megan Fawley’s role may have been quite different. Rather than being counted on to be a force on Arkansas’ defensive line, she may have been playing midfield or forward and her numbers as well as those of the Lady Razorbacks may have been quite different. Fortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, they had the luxury of moving Fawley to the defense in a move that has worked out tremendously all year.
Not Bad for a First Timer: Freshman Megan Fawley patiently waited for her turn on the field in Arkansas’ exhibition match with Baylor. Her rotation on the field probably came into question as she did not see any action for the first half. Starting in the second, Fawley was fresh and ready to give everything she had and the result was the game-winning goal with 4:37 to play.
Getting on the Board Early: The Lady Razorbacks have proven this season that getting on the scoreboard first in women’s soccer is a huge advantage. The Lady Razorbacks have been the first to score in five of their six wins and in the 11 losses, allowed their opponents to score the first goal 10 times.
As Tough as They Come: Megan McCool was right in the thick of it against Florida as she battled time and again with the Gator midfield. What most people don’t see though are the little hits and shoves that every player encounters. McCool is certainly no exception as she took a pair of hits that kept her on the turf for several seconds including one that caused the referee to stop play, but bounced up after each instance and continued to play.
Playing Her Best Soccer: Some athletes struggle their senior years as they determine what to do in the next stage of their lives, but not Megan McCool. The Bethany, Okla., native is playing the best soccer of her four-year career and the effort shows. She is on pace to eclipse her career best point total for a season and has been all over the field in each of Arkansas’ 15 matches making her a constant threat.
McCool Scores: Not wanting to go home without something against Vanderbilt and Kentucky, senior Megan McCool made the most of her weekend as she not only had a pair of fabulous games, but also scored Arkansas’ only goal against Kentucky. Taking a feed from Katie Stauffer at the top of the penalty area, McCool dinked a shot with backspin over the head of the Kentucky goalkeeper to tie the match at one with just three minutes to play.
What a Play: Megan McCool produced perhaps the best single effort of the 2005 season against Mississippi when she took possession of the ball near midfield and dribbled past four defenders, then beat the Ole Miss keeper with a sharp angle shot. Unfortunately for McCool and the Lady Razorbacks, the shot hit the post and failed to go into the net.
What a Comeback: The Lady Razorbacks come from behind win against Alabama was a huge boost to the confidence of the Lady Razorbacks, but interestingly, the come-from-behind win was something that Arkansas hasn’t accomplished in a long time. In fact it was Oct. 27, 2002 when Arkansas last came from behind to pick up a victory against Vanderbilt at Lady’Back Field.
A Sunday Win: Another not so wonderful yet interesting stat for the Lady Razorbacks is their last Sunday afternoon win in Southeastern Conference play. It was Oct. 20, 2002 when the Lady’Backs defeated Alabama at Lady’Back Field. The last time it occurred on the road, Oct. 15, 2000 when the Lady’Backs again defeated Alabama, this time in Tuscaloosa.
The Players: Every season a team has its stars and the 2005 Lady Razorbacks are no exception. Several Arkansas players have had tremendous seasons despite the scores and those include seniors Megan McCool and Katie Taylor, juniors Devon Burger and Christina Burger and freshmen Megan Fawley and Abbey Wilburn. While other Lady Razorbacks have played well this season, those six have met the challenges placed before them and taken their games to another level.
Not a Bad Opener: If you had told the Arkansas coaching staff that they would split their opening weekend on the road prior to the season, they would have been happy. If you told them they would win the first match 5-1, they would have been ecstatic. Of course, as with all things, following the first win, the entire Arkansas team wanted to pick up an opening weekend sweep, but a 1-0 start to the season was just fine.
Non-Conference Wrap-Up: The Lady Razorbacks ended their non-conference schedule on Sunday afternoon on a high note when they defeated Southeastern Louisiana. Arkansas finished the beginning part of its schedule 3-4-0, missing one game to Hurricane Katrina.