A Tough Stretch: The Lady Razorbacks just finished their toughest stretch of the season in terms of volume on Sunday as they competed in five games over a 10-day span. During that time, Arkansas went 3-2-0 and picked up two home and one road win.
Back to Normalcy: Now that Arkansas opened the season with a flurry of games, it is now time to return to a normal schedule. That includes matches on Friday and Sunday, this weekend on the road in Louisiana. Arkansas plays Louisiana Tech on Friday evening and Centenary on Sunday afternoon.
Three Wins, Three Shutouts: So far this season the Lady Razorbacks have won three times and each has been a shutout. Arkansas defeated Tulsa, 2-0, in the opener then picked up victories over Oral Roberts, 3-0, and Austin Peay, 2-0. Another coincidence is that Arkansas has scored at least two goals in each of its three wins. In Arkansas’ two losses it has scored one and conceded three.
Leading Scorer: Getting her Lady Razorback career off with a great start has been Kelly O’Connor who leads Arkansas in scoring. Hitting Arkansas’ first goal of the season, she has gone on to score three times in total and also has an assist for seven points.
Home, Sweet, Home: One of the charms about Kelly O’Connor is that she is a local product. A native of nearby Bentonville, Ark., O’Connor had opportunities to play in other places but chose to stay close to home.
Game Winner: Along with the season’s first goal, Kelly O’Connor also recorded Arkansas’ first game winner with her strike against Tulsa.
A Quarter Though: It has only been two weeks, but can you believe that the 2007 Arkansas women’s soccer season is a quarter of the way through. The Lady Razorbacks have 20 games on their schedule this fall and have already played in five. The season still has eight regular season weekends to go, but in terms of games, the season is progressing fast.
Louisiana Tech: It has been a rough year for Louisiana Tech this fall. After an exhibition win over LSU-Shreveport on Aug. 19, the Bulldogs have dropped two other exhibition matches as well as their first four games of the season. To give Louisiana Tech some credit, each of their regular season contests have been on the road making each stop a little more difficult.
Scoring Woes: Part of Louisiana Tech’s problem this season has been a serious lack of scoring in four regular season games the Bulldogs have managed just one goal and four if you count their three exhibition matches. On the other side of the ball, Louisiana Tech has allowed 10 goals during the regular season and 14 with the preseason.
Last Fall: In the very first matchup between Arkansas and Louisiana Tech, the Lady Razorbacks escaped with a win, 2-1, in overtime at Lady’Back Field. Up by a score late, the Bulldogs sent a free kick just inside the top of the penalty area that went off a Lady Razorback head and sailed into the net for an own goal which tied it up. Unwilling to accept defeat, Arkansas scored just four minutes into the first overtime when Abbey WIlburn delivered with a double assist from Ali Harter and Allison Harris.
A Series Lead: With just last year’s game to call upon, the Lady Razorbacks have a series lead over Louisiana Tech, 1-0-0.
First KXUA Broadcast: Arkansas’ road matches with Louisiana Tech and Centenary mark the first local radio broadcasts of the 2007 season. Both games will be broadcast live on KXUA, 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. The match audio will also be streamed live on LADYBACKS.com for free.
Other Broadcast Media: While we are on the subject, the Lady Razorbacks welcomed ESPN Deportes to their broadcast family this fall for Arkansas’ Spanish speaking audience. ESPN Deportes replaces La Tremenda as the host of Arkansas’ Spanish speaking broadcast.
Centenary: Centenary enters its 2007 clash with the Lady Razorbacks 3-2-0 after wins over Arkansas State, Texas State and Grambling. In their three wins, the Ladies have scored five goals and produced a pair of shutouts. After losing 2-0 to Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday, Sept. 5, Centenary has gone the tow games without conceding a goal heading into this weekend’s action.
Completing an Arkansas Trifecta: Centenary’s match with the Lady Razorbacks completes an Arkansas trifecta for the Louisiana-based school. In the season opener, Centenary defeated Arkansas State 2-1 in Jonesboro. The second game of the year saw the Ladies pick up their first loss, 1-2 to the Univ. of Arkansas-Little Rock.
A Long Time: It has been a long time since Arkansas and Centenary have met in women’s soccer. In fact, it’s been 12 years. The last time these two squads have clashed on the soccer pitch was 1994 in Plano, Texas.
All Tied Up: Arkansas and Centenary have played just twice over the years with neither team holding an edge. The first career meeting saw Arkansas defeat the Ladies 3-1 in overtime in Fayetteville. The next meeting was in Plano, Texas, and Centenary pulled out a hard-fought 1-0 victory,
A Lady Razorback Record: It took just 20 seconds for the Lady Razorbacks to get on the scoreboard against Oral Roberts and the quick tally was an Arkansas record for a first goal. Junior Abbey Wilburn nailed a shot from just outside the penalty area that skimmed off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal to give Arkansas a lead and set the record. Prior to WIlburn’s score, the fastest Lady Razorback goal had been 1:00 set by Jessica Fraser back in 1997 against Mississippi State.
Tied for Third: With her lone goal on the year, Abbey Wilburn is tied for third on the Lady Razorback roster for points scored (2). She is joined by Lindsay Patterson, Rachel Smith and Kathleen Paulsen with one goal each. Kim Schleif also has two points, but both came from assists.
The SEC Standings: Similar to the preseason poll so far, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are sitting in fourth in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division. Holding a 3-2-0 overall record, Arkansas is one of 10 SEC schools to have a better than .500 winning percentage thus far. No SEC team is below the midway point. So far, three SEC teams have perfect records, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina.
SEC Preseason Poll: The Southeastern Conference released its 2007 preseason poll and the University of Arkansas was slated to finish fourth in the SEC’s Western Division. The Lady Razorbacks are well ahead of Alabama and Mississippi State in the West and close to LSU who ranks third. Auburn leads the West with eight first-place votes and 58 points. In the East, Florida leads the way with nine first-place votes and 57 points. Tennessee ranks second despite a lack of first-place votes with 47 points. Vanderbilt, Georgia and Kentucky all received one first-place vote.
A Freshman Goalkeeper: Coming in to the season, one would have thought that the Lady Razorbacks might be weak in the back because of a lack of experience in goal. Not the case so far as freshman Britni Williams has secured the position and done so admirably. In five matches, Williams holds a miniscule, 0.58 goals against average, has three shutouts to her credit and has made 19 saves.
Chasing the Freshman Records: While it may not be a conscious thought on her part, it is on ours. At Britni Williams’ current pace she could break several Arkansas records for freshmen goalkeepers this fall. In fact, Williams is already close to breaking the one for shutouts which stands at 4.5 by Megan Bals in 1999.
One of Two: We should point out that Britni Williams was just one of two Lady Razorback freshmen to start the season on the field. The other freshman is the team’s leading scorer, Kelly O’Connor.
A Lady Razorback First: In what is quickly becoming a season of firsts for the Lady Razorbacks, Britni Williams made her mark on Lady Razorback history on Friday, August 31. In that contest she became the first Lady Razorback true freshman goalkeeper to post a shutout in her first collegiate match. That accomplishment encompasses 22 years of Lady Razorback soccer history.
Keeping it Up: To say that Britni Williams will be able to keep up the pace she currently has in keeping opponents out of the goal might be premature, but it is always fun to speculate. With a 0.58 goals against average, Williams could have the best single season goals against average in Lady Razorback history. The current record is Carrie Dillsaver’s 2006 average of 0.91.
Perfect: Senior Allison Harris may not be the perfect player on the soccer field, but she certainly has those capabilities in the classroom. Harris is your ideal student-athlete. She has started all 59 games of her career over four years and maintains a perfect 4.0 grade point average in psychology.
A Soccer First: To the best of anyone at the University’s knowledge, Allison Harris is the first Lady Razorback soccer player to maintain a perfect 4.0 grade point average for eight semesters. That number could become nine after this fall.
Academic Honors: Last fall Allison Harris became just the second Lady Razorback soccer player to be named ESPN The Magazine Academic all-American when she was voted to the third team. A three-time first-team all-district award winner, Harris has also been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll three times and the UA Academic Champions list eight times.
Strong in the Back: Of Arkansas’ returning six, three are defenders which should give the Lady Razorbacks strength in the back line. That group will be key to Arkansas’ success this fall as they start a new goalkeeper.
On the Scoreboard: Sophomore Rachel Smith made personal history last Sunday afternoon against Memphis when she scored the first goal of her collegiate career. Striking a 22-yard shot through the hands of the Memphis goalkeeper and into the side netting, Smith had played more than 1,700 minutes over two seasons before the score.
Number Change: Last season Rachel Smith patrolled the field wearing number 21. This season, the starting sophomore outside defender dons the number 2. After the departure of former Lady’Back Devon Burger to graduation, Smith chose to wear that number.
Home Schedule: Arkansas’ home schedule in 2007 is quite favorable and should bring lots of excitement to Lady’Back Field. There are 11 contests on the home slate as opposed to just nine on the road. The action begins on Aug. 31 when the Lady’Backs host Tulsa and concludes on the final day of the regular season, Nov. 2 against LSU. The Lady’Backs play six conference games at home and even have a stretch of six consecutive home matches from Sept. 21 to Oct. 7.
SEC All-Freshman Team: Sophomore Kim Schleif made University of Arkansas Lady Razorback history last fall when she became Arkansas’ first SEC all-Freshman team member. Playing the majority of her time at outside midfield, Schleif scored three goals and added an assist in 19 matches, 12 of which she started.
Proving Herself: Kim Schleif may be the most decorated returning Lady Razorback with her all-freshman team honors, but that didn’t stop her from training hard over the off season. In her first game back, Schleif assisted on the Lady Razorbacks first goal of the season with a nice cross into the mixer from the left side which led to Kelly O’Connor’s goal.