A Huge Weekend Split: The Lady Razorbacks split their road matches against Auburn and Alabama and in the process did a lot more than just win one game. The team returned from the road trip with a confidence that the Lady Razorbacks have not seen in several years. By virtue of Arkansas’ win against Alabama last Sunday afternoon, it thrust itself into a contender for the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Beating the Crimson Tide: For years Alabama had Arkansas’ number, but that began to change in the late 90s as the Lady Razorbacks rattled off a pair of victories including the one and only time that the Lady Razorbacks defeated the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, 1999. Arkansas’ victory over Alabama is its fourth in 13 career meetings.
What a Comeback: The Lady Razorbacks come from behind win on Sunday afternoon was a huge boost the confidence of the Lady Razorback roster, 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 came from behind to pick up a victory last time 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.
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 beginning 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.
South Carolina: The South Carolina Gamecocks enter Friday night’s match against the Lady Razorbacks needing a win to even have a remote thought at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. With just three points by virtue of a 1-7-0 SEC record and 5-10-0 overall mark, a Friday night loss by the Gamecocks could eliminate them from post season play depending on how the other game’s fare.
Arkansas Versus South Carolina: The Lady Razorbacks have only played South Carolina six times over the years, but the Gamecocks have come out on the winning side in four contests. The Lady’Backs were successful on their last trip to Columbia though as they defeated the Gamecocks, 2-1 in double overtime amid a fireworks show that was launched during extra time.
The 2004 Matchup: South Carolina came to Fayetteville in 2004 looking to avenge the 2-1 double overtime loss they suffered in 2002 at home and did exactly that as they walked off Lady’Back Field with a 1-0 victory. Ashley Kirk scored the game’s only goal for South Carolina when she hit an eight-yard shot off a rebound in the 21st minute. A relatively even game, the Gamecocks held only a slight advantage in shots and shots on goal.
The SEC Standings: With just three matches to play by all 12 Southeastern Conference schools, the standings are taking shape and the Lady Razorbacks are involved in a dogfight with the SEC Western Division. Ole Miss appears that they will take the Western Division title, but Arkansas is just a tie away from third in the west behind LSU and tied with Mississippi State. In the east, Tennessee’s loss last weekend hurt, but didn’t prevent the Lady Vols from maintaining the Eastern Division lead.
The Road to the SEC Championships: With just three games left in the SEC schedule, there are only four open spots for the SEC Championship Tournament after Tennessee, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Florida all clinched a spot last weekend. What is left is eight teams competing for four spots and the race will begin to get settled on Friday night as Arkansas and South Carolina square off along with Alabama and Georgia as the two matches that pit teams that have not clinched against each other.
Arkansas’ Prospects: Should the Lady Razorbacks wish to make a return appearance at the SEC Championship Tournament for the first time since 2000, they must take fate into their own hands. A pair of Arkansas wins should give the Lady’Backs what they need to make it to the dance, while a win and a tie could also bring joy to Fayetteville. Two Arkansas losses would require loads of help from the conference schools.
The Florida Gators: The University of Florida has perennially been one of the class acts of the Southeastern Conference. With more SEC regular season and tournament titles than any other school, Florida is at a bit of a loss in 2005 as they currently stand at 5-2-1 in SEC play. Prior to the 2002 season, Florida had never lost more than one conference game in a season.
Dominating the Lady Razorbacks: The Florida Gators have dominated Arkansas over the years to the tune of nine wins and no losses. While some of the matchups have been memorable like the SEC Tournament final in 1996 or the SEC Tournament first-round match in 1999, the Gators continually find a way to win.
Last Season: A scoreless match at the half, Florida took a 1-0 lead at home when Ashley Kellgren hit a 15-yard shot in the 51st minute. The Gator’s Cherry Pickman made it a 2-0 Florida advantage when she scored in the 75th minute, but Arkansas’ Ali Harter made it a one-goal match with 13 minutes to play when she tallied her second career goal. Despite a furious Arkansas attack in the final moments, Florida would hold and take the victory to preserve their unblemished record against the Lady Razorbacks.
What a Game: Senior Carrie Dillsaver has been a force for the Lady Razorbacks in goal all season and that was never more evident than in Arkansas’ match with Auburn where, despite the loss, she made a career high 12 saves including one on a penalty kick.
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, should she start the rest of the season she will finish with 54 wins, six behind all-time leader Molly Myers. Her 17th win against Alabama moved her into a tie for third and placed in that spot alone for shots faced.
Where She Stands Now: Carrie Dillsaver continues to creep ever closer to the Lady Razorback’s career goalkeeping records. She started her 51st career game (second), notched her 17th win (tied for third), faced her 636th shot (third), made her 245th save (fifth), dropped her goals against average to 1.60 (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 past two seasons, Dillsaver has 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. Her status for the rest of the season is doubtful. Junior Allison Harris is likely out for the remainder of the season with her right MCL, while sophomore Alison Harter had her walking boot removed and has begun light jogging. Senior Katie Taylor incurred an ankle injury in the Auburn match but was able to play 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon. She should play this weekend barring any unforeseen circumstances.
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 15 games. Perhaps those starting 11 are beginning to settle as head coach Gordon Henderson used the same starting 11 for just the fourth and fifth times this year against Auburn and Alabama 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’ 10 one-goal matches. Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, they have come out on the losing end of those tight games eight times, but perhaps that trend is changing as they notched their second win in a one-goal game against Alabama.
Number 10: Christina Burger’s assist against Auburn was a significant touch as it was not just her fourth assist of the season, but it was also her 41st career point placing her 10th on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list.
Burger Continues to Score: Christina Burger tallied her fifth goal of the season against Tennessee on Oct. 7, matching her season total from a year ago and one off her career high of six which she set during her freshman year. Burger’s career high in points of 15, also set during her freshman season is also in jeopardy as she now has 14 points with three games to play.
Burger Nets Third Game Winner: Junior Christina Burger has a knack for the important goals and that has shown itself this year. Of her five scores this season, three have won games for the Lady Razorbacks including her score against Mississippi State, while another has tied a match. Her third game-winner of the season places her in a seven-way tie for fifth on Arkansas’ all-time list for a single season.
First Game Winners: Christina Burger has three 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.
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.
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.
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 four of their five wins and in the 10 losses, allowed their opponents to score the first goal nine times.
A Silent Leader: She doesn’t say much on the field and she doesn’t look flashy when she plays, but Devon Burger gets the job done. One of Arkansas’ candidates for team MVP in 2005, Burger has been one of Arkansas’ most consistent players since she set foot on campus and has anchored the left defensive back position for three seasons.
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.
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 15 Lady Razorback contests with Leah Collison, Lindsay Patterson and Tara Sageser each getting one start.
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.
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.
Welcome Back: Katie Hamilton has been sorely missed by the Lady Razorbacks throughout most of the 2005 season. An outside midfielder for two seasons, she was moved to forward prior to the 2005 campaign, but a back injury kept her on the sidelines for most of the year. Returning to action against Ole Miss after nearly a month off, Hamilton’s presence was felt immediately as she provided Arkansas with speed and savvy on the front line.
First Points Back: Katie Hamilton scored in Arkansas’ opening day 5-1 victory over Tulsa, then missed a good portion of the season to injury. Back in the starting lineup, she picked up her first points since returning to action when she assisted on Megan McCool’s goal against Auburn.
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.