Another Tie: The Lady Razorbacks picked up their second tie of the season last weekend when they worked a 0-0 shutout at the University of Georgia last weekend. Arkansas played very strong defensively in the effort as sophomore goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver made eight saves.
Losing to No. 7: No one expected Arkansas to pick up the win except perhaps the Lady Razorbacks themselves, but Arkansas fell to the then ranked seventh nationally, Tennessee Lady Vols on Friday evening, 3-1.
Exorcising the Ghosts: The last time that Arkansas made the Tennessee-Georgia swing in SEC led to unfavorable results for Lady Razorback fans as Arkansas dropped a pair. This time however, Arkansas frustrated its opponents and came away with a loss and a tie to keep it in second place in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division.
The Lone Goal: Arkansas’ only goal on the weekend was scored by retuning leading scorer, Christina Burger. A force for the Lady Razorbacks as a freshman, Burger played more of a backup roll in 2003 and that changed this season. Burger’s goal was her fifth of the season and coupled with her two assists, she is tied for first on the Lady’Backs scoring charts with 12 points.
Don’t Count Her Out: Arkansas sophomore Christina Burger may have relinquished her goals and points lead to freshman Sarah Gwisdala, but don’t count her out. Burger has four goals this season and could have a fifth if her shot against Kentucky in the closing moments hadn’t pinged off the inside of the post and bounced back into play.
Arkansas’ Leading Scorer: With all-time leading scorer Julie Williford having completed her soccer eligibility, the Lady Razorbacks are looking for someone to fill the void and if numbers are what you look to, then Christina Burger could be her replacement. Scoring six goals and two assists in 2003, Burger is Arkansas leading returning scorer and what looks good for the Lady Razorbacks is that she was able to notch her scores from all over the field.
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.
Results Against the East: Very rarely in the history of Southeastern Conference play have teams from the Western Division beat up on teams from the east, but that is what is happening this fall. In fact Arkansas’ 1-1-2 mark against squads from the other side is its best ever. Prior to 2004, Arkansas had never taken a result from more than two teams from the SEC Eastern Division.
The SEC Standings: Things are beginning to shake out in the Southeastern Conference, but the only thing that is being determined is that teams are more even than ever before. Only Tennessee and Auburn are “running away” from the pack while nearly rest of the league is still in the hunt to make the SEC Tournament. Arkansas’ 2-2-2 conference clip parks it at second in the west with Miss. St., Alabama and Ole Miss chasing closely.
Second in the West: We are now halfway through the Southeastern Conference schedule and the Lady Razorbacks are still sitting in second in the SEC’s Western Division. Holding a 2-2-2 conference record, the Lady’Backs have accumulated eight points and are one point ahead of Mississippi State who at 2-3-1 have seven points. Alabama and Ole Miss also chase Arkansas with six points a piece.
The Auburn Tigers: The Auburn Tigers enter the weekend with the best overall mark in the Southeastern Conference at 10-2-1 and with a nearly unblemished SEC record at 5-0-1. Undefeated in their last six matches, the Tigers are an impressive 4-0-1 on the road this season and are ranked 23rd in the nation by the NSCAA.
Another Ranked Opponent: No one said that the Southeastern Conference schedule would be easy for Arkansas and the fact that it plays a second ranked opponent in three matches backs that theory up. The Auburn Tigers rank 23rd in the NSCAA poll, 24th by SoccerBuzz, 22nd by Soccer America and are receiving votes in the Soccer Times poll.
Leading the Way for the Tigers: The backbone of the Auburn Tigers has to be four-year starter Megan Rivera in goal. Over the course of 13 matches, Rivera has accumulated a 0.53 goals against average after conceding just seven goals and has posted six shutouts in that time.
Scoring Threats: While defense dominates the Auburn lineup, don’t count out a potent scoring offense. Crissy Culver leads the Tigers in points with 13 and goals with five while Sarah Steinmann is second with four goals and 12 points.
The Arkansas-Auburn Series: In 11 career meetings between Arkansas and Auburn no one would have thought that the series would be even at 5-5-1. After trading victories and a tie in the mid 90s, Arkansas won four of the next five matches to take a commanding lead in the series, but three straight Auburn wins have evened it up once again.
Last Year at Auburn: The Lady Razorbacks certainly didn’t have their best match of the year against the Auburn Tigers. Losing 2-0, Arkansas took just four shots while Auburn had 13. Tied at the half, Auburn came out of the locker room flying and took it to the Lady’Backs who struggled to mount much of an offense. The 2003 meeting between the two schools saw Rhonda Brooks tally the game winner at 54:42 while Sarah Steinmann put the match away with a goal at 71:14.
Record Crowd: The crowd at Arkansas’ home opener of 639 is the seventh largest in Lady Razorback history and the benchmark for home openers. The previous best for a home opener was 564 set in 1994 against Mercer.
Averaging 553: Starting off the season on the right foot with a record crowd for a home opener, Arkansas’ winning efforts have seen a boom in attendance. The Lady Razorbacks are averaging 553 patrons per match and have welcomed crowds of 401, 529, 551, 639 and 647 to Lady’Back Field.
Two of the Top 10: What is most impressive about Arkansas’ home crowds is that two of the attendances during the 2004 season are among the Lady’Backs top 10 all-time. The crowd of 647 ranks seventh and 639 ranks eighth.
The Alabama Crimson Tide: The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the weekend with a host of confidence after picking up a huge win against Ole Miss last Friday night. Unfortunately, the Crimson Tide was not able to pick up a result against Mississippi State on Sunday bringing their Southeastern Conference record to 2-4-0 and their overall mark to 6-8-0.
The Ole Miss Win: On Friday night Alabama was dominated statistically, but produced a win thanks to Emily Pitek’s penalty kick in the 93rd minute of play. Alabama was outshot by Ole Miss 22-11, but the end result had the Crimson Tide on the winning end.
A Major Threat: For the Alabama Crimson Tide, the scoring threat is easy to determine. Jordan O’Banion leads the Crimson Tide with seven goals this season, nearly double that of any other teammate. Not just a goal scorer when it means nothing, O’Banion also has three of Alabama’s six game-winning goals.
Arkansas vs. Alabama: The Arkansas-Alabama series used to be dominated by the Crimson Tide, but over the past few years it has been back and forth with the home squad getting the advantage and the win. The Crimson Tide won five of the first six matches with the Lady Razorbacks before Arkansas took its first victory against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa back in 1999. Winning again in 2000 and 2004, Arkansas fell to Alabama in Tuscaloosa in both 2001 and 2003.
Last Season in Tuscaloosa: It had the feeling of a minor league hockey match in Tuscaloosa last season as Alabama continuously dumped the ball into the corners and made the Lady Razorbacks chase them down. Aiding in Alabama’s cause was the fact that Arkansas had to play from behind the entire match as they conceded the game’s first score at 2:14.
McCool Looks Good: Megan McCool has consistently been tabbed as one of Arkansas’ best players and defenses key on the 5-7 junior from Bethany, Okla. The result of that keeps McCool from playing her best soccer, but what is encouraging is that she is beginning to see the pitfalls and knows how to avoid them. That was never more evident than last weekend when McCool was a driving force in both the Tennessee and Georgia matches.
First Yellow: You have to give Megan McCool credit. After being forced to miss the first match of the 2004 season due to a yellow card violation, she has been much tamer in her older age and was issued just her first of the 2004 season against Georgia.
First Point Since: Junior Megan McCool has battled defenses all season, but that didn’t stop her from picking up an assist in Arkansas’ game with Tennessee last Friday night. The assist was McCool’s third of the season and was her first point in a match since Arkansas took on Vanderbilt on September 24.
McCord Back on the Scoreboard: Morgan McCord has been a solid player for the Lady Razorbacks for the past two seasons and her junior year is shaping up very similar to her previous two. Against Tennessee, McCord picked up her second assist of the season on a pass through the box that Christina Burger capitalized on and then against Georgia on Sunday she sent a brilliant cross through the box that was just missed by the Arkansas attack.
Lady’Backs Second in the Conference: At first it was a nice thought, but as the 2004 season progresses and we get closer to the end we should point out that the Lady Razorbacks are tied for second in the league for points scored with 76. Arkansas’ 5.43 points per match is third in the league behind Florida and Tennessee.
A Missing Shutout: OK, so maybe it wasn’t missing, but lost in the excitement of Arkansas’ tie with Georgia on Sunday was that it was Arkansas’ fifth shutout of the 2004 season.
Make it Eight: Sophomore goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver must like Arkansas’ new system. Four of her victories this season have come on shutouts and adding the tie with Georgia, Dillsaver now has eight for her career. The feat moved her up to fourth-place alone on Arkansas’ all-time shutouts list behind Molly Myers (17.5), Holly Smith (12) and Kerri Reifel (9).
Breaking Records: OK, so we missed one, but we won’t miss two. Carrie Dillsaver’s five shutouts in 2004 are a record for sophomore goalkeepers. She broke the mark set by Keri Reifel in the fall of 1992. The record that we won’t miss is the minutes played mark by a sophomore goalkeeper. Set just four years ago by former Lady’Back Lindsay Haywood, Dillsaver should pass her former teammate near the end of the Auburn match on Oct. 15.
Tops in the Conference: Carrie Dillsaver has been among the conference’s elite when it comes to making a save and last week’s SEC statistics confirmed it. Dillsaver’s 69 saves this year are tops among SEC goalkeepers, six ahead of Ashley Lindley of Georgia.
Personal Scoreless Best: In 2003, Carrie Dillsaver produced back-to-back-to-back shutouts and kept her opponents off the scoreboard for a fabulous 295 minutes and 48 seconds. In 2004 she has already approached the mark twice with a streak of 251:13 and her latest run of 264:30. Arkansas’ all-time best you might ask, 361:20 between 1991-92.
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 Arkansas’ 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.
Slowly Moving Up the Charts: Carrie Dillsaver is slowly moving up Arkansas career charts. She is now one win away from tying former teammate Megan Bals and former Lady’Back Adrin Pedigo for fifth all-time in wins. She is closing in on Molly Myers career goals against average of 1.33 with an average of 1.61, but needs to produce several more shutouts or one-goal matches to achieve that goal.
Getting On the Board First: It seems like an easy concept, but certainly is much harder to do. When the Lady Razorbacks score first they have an excellent chance to win, in fact its nearly automatic. Arkansas is an impressive 6-0-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, but a disappointing 0-6-0 when playing from behind.
First Time Since: Arkansas undefeated SEC opening weekend is the first time a Lady Razorback squad has accomplished the feat since 1995. That year, Arkansas went 2-0 against Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Second Time Ever: The Lady’Backs undefeated start in SEC play is just the second time an Arkansas team has opened the conference schedule without a loss in the 10 years of conference play.
Best Start: Arkansas’ three-match undefeated streak to open Southeastern Conference play was its best start ever since joining the league in the fall of 1994. Prior to the 2004 team, Arkansas’ 1995 squad opened the season 2-0 against the Mississippi schools before falling to Florida in game three.
Senior Leadership: Senior Jenni Brashear was the sparkplug that Arkansas needed in its match with the Mississippi State Bulldogs as she scored Arkansas’ first goal, then assisted on the game winner in overtime. Brashear is Arkansas’ only senior on the active roster and her speed and tenacity on the front line has been instrumental to Arkansas’ success this fall.
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 has Brashear at her original position, forward, after spending the past two seasons as a stalwart defender.
Coming Through in the Clutch: 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.
You Knew it Would Happen: Well it took three-plus years and her fifth career goal to do it, but Jenni Brashear has finally hit a goal that didn’t mean much, and she did it twice! The Little Rock, Ark., native had a flare for the dramatic in that the first four goals of her career were either game winners or game-tying, but her two scores against Southern only padded Arkansas’ lead breaking her run of significant scores at four.
Best Non-Conference Season: While just 4-4-0, the Lady Razorbacks enjoyed one of their best non-conference seasons in several years. The last time that a Lady Razorback team was even or better before conference play began was in 1996.
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?
The 1996-2004 Prognosis: Looking at the numbers, Arkansas was ahead, but has now fallen behind in its chase to match the 11-win season of 1996. Through 14 matches Arkansas is currently 6-6-2 overall while its predecessors were 8-5-1. The current Lady Razorbacks are going to have a tough time catching the 1996 squad who have a two-and-a-half game edge, especially since the 1996 team split its next two matches against Auburn (W, 4-1) and Vanderbilt (L, 1-5).
The SEC Preseason Poll: The Lady Razorbacks were chosen to finish fourth in the western division in the annual Southeastern Conference coaches’ poll which was released on Tuesday, August 24. After tying for third in 2003, Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson felt that the ranking was very fair given the circumstances and hopes to improve on the preseason rankings.
Player of the Week: For her efforts on the field in Arkansas’ SEC opening weekend, Arkansas freshman Sarah Gwisdala was named the Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. She is just the third Lady Razorback to ever take an SEC soccer athlete of the week honor.
An Elite Group: Sarah Gwisdala’s SEC Offensive Athlete of the Week honor puts her in an elite group of women at Arkansas whom have taken a conference honor. Former Lady’Back Brittany Burns was the first when she earned the title in the fall of 1996. Julie Williford then became the second player in September of 2001 followed by her offensive player of the week in September 2003.
Two Goals: Sarah Gwisdala was named the conference player of the week after she scored two goals in Arkansas’ matches with Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Her score in the 84th minute against the Commodores proved to be the game winner, her second game-winner of the season. She then tallied the only goal in Arkansas’ match with Kentucky which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Leading Scorer: Despite not scoring last weekend, freshman Sarah Gwisdala still leads the Lady Razorbacks in scoring this year with six goals and12 points. Should she continue at this pace, Gwisdala could be the first freshman to lead Arkansas in scoring since Amy VanLaecke scored 12 goals and 12 assists for 36 points back in the fall of 1993.
Ankle Sprain: For those that were listening to the radio broadcast on Sunday afternoon, Sarah Gwisdala did suffer an ankle injury, but that was the extent of it. The official diagnosis is a first degree ankle sprain of her left ankle and she is probable for Friday night’s match.
Coming on Strong: It took a while for Katie Hamilton to find her place among the Lady Razorbacks, but the 5 foot, 2 inch sophomore is playing much bigger than her frame would indicate. Having already scored her first career points, Hamilton picked up her first game winning goal against Mississippi State.
The Game Winner: If there was ever a highlight reel kind of goal in the game of soccer it would have to be either the bicycle kick or the diving header. Both require a high degree of concentration and in Katie’s Hamilton’s case that is what she got as she connected on the latter to give Arkansas a 2-1 victory in Starkville, Miss. Charging down the far side of the field, Hamilton found the cross of senior Jenni Brashear to net the golden goal.
Hamilton Gets on the Board: After a freshman year that saw her go scoreless, sophomore Katie Hamilton made up for it against Southern University when she tallied one goal and three assists for five points. The effort is the most points scored by a Lady’Back in a single contest since Julie Williford recorded five against George Mason University on Sept. 21, 2003 with two goals and one assist.
First Points and a Record: Katie Hamilton went 22 games before she scored her first points as a Lady Razorback, but the Plano, Texas, native didn’t waste any time once she got on the board. Contributing three assists in Arkansas’ winning effort against Southern; Hamilton tied the UA record for assists in a single game. Her record matches that of five other Lady Razorback single-game efforts with the last being former Lady’Back Nicole Bynum’s trifecta against Wisconsin-Green Bay on Oct. 1, 1999.
Records Against Southern: The Lady Razorbacks set two team and one individual record against Southern University last Sunday afternoon. Their 11-goal effort set the standard for most goals in game and the 11 points was the largest margin of victory by any Lady’Back squad. Individually, sophomore Katie Hamilton tied Arkansas’ all-time record for assists in a game with three.
First Goal of the Season: The first goal of the 2004 Lady Razorback soccer season was scored by none other than . . . . Allison Harris. A sophomore defender from Snellville, Ga., Harris connected on a direct free kick from 35 yards to tie the game with Southeast Missouri at one midway through the first half. The goal was the first of Harris’ career and her second points after assisting on one score as a freshman.
Offensive and Defensive: While Allison Harris may be leading the Lady Razorbacks in scoring during the 2004 season, no one is going to confuse her as Arkansas’ main offensive weapon. Harris is too strong as a member of the Lady Razorbacks’ defensive four to get that honor, but any offense she can provide throughout the 2004 season is a bonus for the Lady Razorbacks.
Roster Additions: The Lady Razorbacks have added two to the 2004 roster since the media guide was published in late July. Junior Meredith Thompson and freshman Christina Lachut came to the team at the beginning of school and have been working out with the Lady Razorbacks. Some might remember Thompson from her freshman year of 2001 where she played for the Lady Razorbacks but then left the team due to burnout. Lachut is a freshman and assumes the backup goalkeeping duties.
Widespread Scoring: For the past three seasons Arkansas’ opponents knew to key on Julie Williford, but the 2004 Lady Razorbacks are much more unpredictable. With 21 goals this year, one would think that Arkansas had that one go-to person, but that is certainly not the case. Christina Burger and Sarah Gwisdala have four goals each, but all told 11 Lady Razorbacks have at least one goal and 15 of the 20 active players have at least one point.
First Goals: With such a variety from the scoring department, several Lady Razorbacks have netted their first career goals this season. Freshmen Sarah Gwisdala, Carmen Davis and Ali Harter, sophomores Katie Hamilton, Katie Stauffer and Allison Harris and junior Meredith Thompson can each claim their first collegiate scores. Adding to the menagerie are freshman Becca Davis and sophomore Carrie Dillsaver who notched their first career assists.
Team Captain: For the second straight season junior Andrea Sparks has been named captain of the Lady Razorback soccer team. Assisting her in her duties are vice-captains Christina Burger and Megan McCool.