A Strange Weekend: The Lady Razorbacks encountered a strange week in their third weekend of competition. First Mississippi Valley State was unable to drive up to Fayetteville because of a lack of transportation caused by Hurricane Katrina, then another injury sidelined a key substitute followed by an uninspired performance on Sunday afternoon against George Mason leading to Arkansas’ third loss of the season.
Next Up: After all that went on last week, the Lady Razorbacks must rebound on the road when they travel to Lynchburg, Va., to take on Liberty University followed by a home match against S.E. Louisiana on Sunday afternoon.
Last Non-Conference Weekend: The Liberty-S.E. Louisiana weekend is the last time that the Lady Razorbacks face non-conference competition as they make their final preparations for the Southeastern Conference schedule. Following this split weekend, the Lady’Backs head to the road next weekend to face Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Still Leading the Charge: Senior Megan McCool has stepped up her scoring prowess in 2005 and continues to lead the Lady Razorbacks with two goals and an assist for five points. Tied with Alison Harter for the team lead, McCool has scored a point in each of Arkansas’ two victories.
McCool Back in the Swing: After an off year in terms of scoring, senior Megan McCool is back to her old ways. In four games this season she already has two goals and an assist for five points matching her point total from a year ago. Her career high for points in a season is 12 which she scored during her sophomore season on four goals and four assists.
Overshadowed: Had it not been for Tara Sageser’s two goal effort in her first game as a Lady Razorback against Oral Roberts, Megan McCool would have certainly been the story as she scored Arkansas’ first goal and assisted on the second.
Feast or Famine: Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks the 2005 season has been feast or famine when it comes to goals. In Arkansas’ two wins it has scored eight times, but in the three losses, the Lady Razorbacks have been shutout.
Gwisdala Returns to Action: One of the real positives to last weekend’s match against George Mason was the return of sophomore forward Sarah Gwisdala who seems to be recovered from her ankle sprain. Gwisdala started against George Mason and played 48 minutes as she got back into game shape. She did encounter a scary moment when a rough slide tackle by a Patriot kept her on the floor for several seconds, but she was able to walk off the pain and return to action.
The SEC Standings: With their 2-3-0 record, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are in the middle of the pack in the SEC Western Division. In fourth as we speak, a good weekend and a pair of wins could put Arkansas in the thick of it come conference play.
Liberty University: The Liberty University Flames enter Friday night’s match with a 1-2-2 overall record and are coming off a disappointing week in which they tied Elon 1-1 and then lost 2-0 to Old Dominion University.
Tough to Score or Score Upon: Liberty has been a tough team to score on and at the same time they have struggled to score goals. Amy Oberlin leads the team in scoring with two goals this season as she owns 40 percent of the Flame’s goals. On the flip side, Liberty has only been scored upon seven times in five games and their goalkeeper Sonia Rodriguez owns a 1.26 goals against average.
Hit Them Late: We mentioned that Liberty is tough to score on, but the key may be patience. In five games, the Flames have allowed only two first half goals, but five in the second half and overtime. Wearing down a team like Liberty could be truly beneficial to the Lady Razorbacks.
First Meeting: Friday night’s match between Arkansas and Liberty is the first ever between the two schools and is one of two such matches this season. The other first encounter for the Lady Razorbacks, Sunday afternoon’s opponent, S.E. Louisiana.
Sageser Makes a Statement: Sophomore transfer Tara Sageser was not a part of Arkansas’ travel squad when it went to Tulsa, Oklahoma or Kansas. She got her first minutes as a starter against Oral Roberts and made the most of it as she scored twice in the 3-0 victory. A first-team all-Mid-Continent Conference and Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year in 2004 when she played for Centenary, if Sageser can strike balls like she did on her second goal of the Oral Roberts match, she could see a lot of minutes as the season progresses.
First Start, First Game: It should be emphasized again that Tara Sageser not only made her first career start as a Lady Razorback on Sunday afternoon, but she also played in her first game!
A First: While it will take some deep digging to make the point concrete, it is believed that Tara Sageser is the first Lady Razorback in 20 years to score two goals in her first match wearing the Cardinal and White. For a fact she is the first going back to the 1994 season, but records prior to then will take some time to recover.
Southeastern Louisiana: Southeastern Louisiana is located in Hammond, La., and took a big hit when Hurricane Katrina rolled through two weeks ago. Despite the adversity, The Lions have been playing some great soccer and after losing their first two matches of the year (before the storm) have won two straight by a combined margin of 17-0.
Goal Scoring Power: Its one thing to key on one play, but certainly another to have to watch everyone on the field. In the past two games, Southeastern Louisiana has scored 17 goals and got three from sophomore midfielder Danielle Shank in the Southern win, then saw sophomore forward Aimee Davis tie school records for goals and points against Alcorn State with four and nine, respectively.
Solid Defensively: In four games this season, Southeastern Louisiana has only allowed three goals making them a tough side especially when considering their offensive potential. Their two-pronged attack in goal has earned a 0.75 goals against average and has rarely been challenged.
And it Continues: Carrie Dillsaver’s ascent to the top of Arkansas’ career goalkeeping categories began in Arkansas’ first match of the season as she notched her 13th career win to place herself alone in fifth place all-time. Her 39th start against Kansas placed her in a fourth on the games started list. It may take a couple games for Dillsaver to reach her next milestones, but we will certainly keep you informed.
Moving Up the Charts: Unless the Lady Razorbacks have a year that will be remembered by the nation, Carrie Dillsaver may not eclipse all the Lady Razorback goalkeeping records, but her three-year assault on them will take her awfully close. Dillsaver is currently ranked between two and six on all the Lady Razorback career charts and has a chance to break most of the records with another year like she has displayed.
Where She Stands Now: Carrie Dillsaver and the Lady Razorback’s career goalkeeping records creep steadily closer. She started her 41st career game (fourth), notched her 14th win (fifth), faced her 489th shot (fifth), made her 197th save (fifth), dropped her goals against average to 1.61 (second) and recorded her ninth 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 past two seasons, Dillsaver has started all 36 games she has played in and tallied a staggering 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.
The Backbone: The Lady Razorbacks have assembled a strong defensive unit that has played together for two seasons and during that time has accumulated more than 144 starts between the four players. Seniors Andrea Sparks and Katie Taylor are assisted by juniors Allison Harris and Devon Burger to anchor the back for Arkansas and adding in senior Carrie Dillsaver in goal, you have five starters that have seen almost everything opposing offenses can throw at them.
Proof of a Solid Defense: The proof of Arkansas’ defensive prowess is its ability to keep balls out of the net. In 2003 the Lady Razorbacks allowed 42 goals. The 2004 squad allowed a mere 28 for a 33% improvement. Could the 2005 team be even better? Only time will tell.
The Defense Holds Strong: While it is only four games into the season, Arkansas’ defense has taken some hits already as half of its starting four are sidelined with injuries. Senior Andrea Sparks and junior Allison Harris have each had to sit down with knee injuries forcing the Lady Razorbacks to place less experienced players in the middle, but each has faired very well considering their situation.
Injury Update: The Lady Razorbacks have been bit by the injury bug this season and the news continues to get worse. While Arkansas did get a healthy Sarah Gwisdala back into the lineup, they lost another forward, Alison Harter the same week. Arkansas currently has four players on the inactive roster for the weekend including Andrea Sparks, Allison Harris, Katie Hamilton and Alison Harter. Sparks is rehabilitating a surgically repaired left knee and could be back in action in two weeks. Harris tore her medial collateral ligament in her right knee and is potentially out the rest of the season depending on how surgery goes. Hamilton’s back has been an issue throughout the year and should keep her on the sidelines for a couple of weeks while Harter has a hairline fracture in her left tibia and is out at least two weeks.
Lineup Changes: Due to the rash of injuries, the Lady Razorbacks have had to be creative with their personnel and the result is four different starting lineups in five games. The only time Arkansas has used the same 11 starters were in games one and two, but since then it has been musical positions as players have compensated for the loss of their teammates.
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 four have made starts. Abbey Wilburn and Megan Fawley have each started all five Lady Razorback contests with Leah Collison and Tara Sageser each getting one start.
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.
Megan of all Trades: First there was the term Jack-of-all-trades, now its Megan-of-all trades. After her preseason goal against Baylor as a forward/midfielder, Arkansas’ coaching staff moved her to defender to fill a hole and the Richardson, Texas, native was up to the task as she played every moment of each of Arkansas’ first five regular season matches.
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.
Opening at 1-0: The Lady Razorback’s victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane was the first time since the 2000 season that the Lady Razorbacks opened the season with a win and the first time since 1998 that they accomplished the task on the road.
Not to be Forgotten: Not to be forgotten in the Tulsa match was junior forward Christina Burger who got the Lady Razorbacks started on the right foot with a goal and two assists. Burger assisted on Megan McCool’s fourth minute goal, then created one of her own in the 19th minute on a superlative individual effort. Burger then assisted Alison Harter on her first goal in the 64th minute to ice the game.
What a Play: Christina Burger showed the Tulsa crowd why she is so highly thought of in Lady Razorback circles when she made perhaps the play of the game in the 19th minute. Taking a feed from Katie Stauffer inside the center circle, Burger raced down the middle of the field with the ball, taking on two Tulsa defenders, while drifting slightly left. She then took a shot from inside the penalty area that crossed the box and into the far corner of the net. The entire play took no longer than 10 seconds, but the effort put forth by Burger was nothing short of exceptional.
The SEC Coaches Poll: The SEC Coaches poll was released and the Lady Razorbacks were picked to finish sixth in the Western Division and 10th overall. Picking up 21 points, Arkansas is just behind LSU and Mississippi State who have 24 and 23, respectively.