A Rough Weekend: The Lady Razorbacks were hoping that a return to Lady’Back Field would help solidify their place at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Instead it made their situation precarious as Arkansas dropped a pair of matches to western division foes Auburn and Alabama.
Great Game with Auburn: The Auburn Tigers rolled into Fayetteville ranked 19th in the nation and on a six-match unbeaten streak. Unimpressed, Arkansas took it right to the Tigers dominating the opening moments. As Auburn fought back, Arkansas was able to keep the Tigers away from the goal allowing Carrie Dillsaver to make seven saves. Arkansas had a golden opportunity with four minutes remaining when they got a one-on-one with the Auburn keeper, but could not capitalize. Auburn returned the favor just moments later to nail the game-winning goal in the 89th minute.
The Worst Kind of Opening: The Lady Razorbacks came out for the Alabama match flat and on their heels, an opening that Alabama took full advantage of. Before anyone in the stands knew what was happening it was 3-0 Alabama. Arkansas did settle in and get a goal to make it 3-1 at the half, but the damage had been done.
First Career Goal: Junior Katie Taylor is a three-year starter for the Lady Razorbacks at defense and only recently has become a scoring threat. The Tulsa, Okla., native has picked up a pair of assists this season, but against Alabama she notched her first career goal. Taylor came flying into the box from the 18 and connected on a header off an Arkansas corner kick to put the Lady Razorbacks on the scoreboard.
Double the Points: Katie Taylor did not score a single point as a freshman, and then picked up a pair of assists as a sophomore. As a junior, she is becoming even more involved with Arkansas’ offense despite playing outside defense. She now has a goal and two assists for four points on the season, double her total from her first two seasons.
Surging Attendance: The Lady Razorbacks enjoyed their largest crowds of the season last weekend when they welcomed more than 1,400 fans to Lady’Back Field. Arkansas’ attendance on Friday night against 19th-ranked Auburn was 742, the fourth largest crowd in UA history. Sunday was nearly as good at 737, the fifth largest crowd. So far this season Arkansas has brought in its fourth, fifth, ninth, 10th and 13th largest crowds ever.
Averaging 607: Starting off the season on the right foot with a record crowd for a home opener, Arkansas’ 2004 season has seen a boom in attendance. The Lady Razorbacks are averaging 607 patrons per match and have welcomed crowds of 401, 529, 551, 639, 647, 737 and 742 to Lady’Back Field. Arkansas’ average attendance is seventh among SEC schools.
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.
The SEC Standings: The Lady Razorbacks recent struggles put them in 10th place overall and fifth in the SEC’s Western Division. The Lady Razorbacks have eight points in conference action thanks to a 2-4-2 overall record. Tennessee leads the way with a perfect 8-0-0 record followed closely by Auburn at 7-0-1. The two schools face off this weekend for conference supremacy.
The Southeastern Conference Tournament: The 2004 SEC Tournament has been moved from Orange Beach, Ala., to Auburn, Ala., due to the hurricanes that ravaged the area earlier in the fall. Currently, the Lady Razorbacks are on the outside looking in on the action.
Who’s In: There are two guarantees for the SEC Tournament, Auburn and Tennessee. By virtue of their victories last weekend both have clinched the conference’s divisional championships.
Who’s Out: No one as of yet has been statistically eliminated from the SEC Tournament. The two teams that are in the most danger are LSU and South Carolina. Should the Gamecocks lose one of their final three matches they would be eliminated. LSU cannot lose and tie their final three matches.
Arkansas’ Outlook: The Lady Razorbacks final three matches pit them against South Carolina, Florida and LSU. Two of the three schools rank below Arkansas in the SEC standings meaning that the Lady Razorbacks could eliminate those schools with victories. A pair of wins over its final three matches should punch Arkansas’ ticket to Auburn.
The South Carolina Gamecocks: South Carolina enters the Arkansas match looking to end a three-match losing streak. Owners of a 6-9-2 overall record, the Gamecocks are winless in SEC play at 0-6-2. South Carolina also enters the match playing for its post-season lives needing three victories over its final three matches to have a chance at the SEC Tournament.
Leading South Carolina: Leading South Carolina in scoring this fall is senior forward Ashley Williams. With seven goals on the season, Williams has accumulated 14 points and is trailed closely by Sarah Lentz and Jessi Swaim who each have 10. While Williams has the goals, it is Lentz that hits the meaningful ones as she has three game winners.
Splitting Time: South Carolina has used a pair of goalkeepers this season and each has played significant minutes. Lindsay Thorstenson got all the playing time last weekend in a pair of losses to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, giving up four goals in two matches. For the season, Thorstenson has played in 11 and started 10 matches and has a 1.80 goals against average and 35 saves while accumulating a 3-6-2 record.
The Series: Arkansas has played South Carolina fewer times than any other SEC opponent. In five career meetings, the Lady’Backs are 2-3-0 against the school that entered the league in the same year. In Fayetteville, Arkansas is 1-2 against the Gamecocks.
Last Meeting: The last meeting between Arkansas and South Carolina came in 2002 in Columbia, S.C., a contest that was won by Arkansas, 2-1 in overtime. Former Lady Razorback Lisa Jones was the hero for Arkansas with both Lady Razorback goals while Arkansas looked solid in all facets of the contest. The victory by the Lady Razorbacks ended a three-match losing streak to the Gamecocks.
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 in a single season. South Carolina and Florida are both in the east.
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.
Another Assist: Former Lady Razorback Holly Collins set the UA record for assists thanks to the brilliance of her corner kicks. Sophomore Katie Hamilton is beginning to develop that talent with her corners and connected on her first against the Alabama Crimson Tide when Katie Taylor scored Arkansas’ only 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.
The Florida Gators: Once the toast of the Southeastern Conference, the former NCAA Champions have handed their crown to the Tennessee Lady Vols the past two seasons, but are still a very formidable opponent. Ranked 25th in the latest NSCAA poll, the Gators enter the match with an impressive 10-3-3 overall record and have a 4-2-2 mark in conference action.
Dings in Conference: For years, the Florida Gators were undefeated in Southeastern Conference play, but 2004 is certainly a “down” year for Florida as they have two losses and two ties in league action. Florida’s two losses came against the top two teams in the league, Florida and Auburn. The two losses were at Vanderbilt and against Ole Miss last Sunday afternoon.
Still a Formidable Offense: Despite a record that the Gators are not used to, Florida still has great scoring potential as evidenced by the fact that it leads the Southeastern Conference in goals and points. The Gators have scored 35 goals in 16 matches for over two scores per contest. However in conference only matches, Florida is ranked second in the league with 14 goals in eight games for a 1.75 average.
Don’t Let Freeman be Free: Senior midfielder Stephanie Freeman is the Gators top player and top scorer during the 2004 season. The Florida native has powered home 13 goals and assisted on two others for 28 points. Certainly Florida’s go-to person, Freeman has five game-winning scores and has only been out of the Gator lineup for 51 minutes since the beginning of the season.
Last Meeting: Arkansas traveled to Gainesville in the last meeting between the two clubs back in 2002 and had the Gators on the ropes for a time after scoring the games’ first goal in the 20th minute, but the Gators rallied and tied it up at one in the 40th minute. The Gators then took the lead in the 44th minute eventually holding on to a 2-1 victory.
Breaking Records: OK, so we missed one, but we won’t miss two or even three for that matter. 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 didn’t miss is the minutes played mark by a sophomore goalkeeper. Set just four years ago by former Lady’Back Lindsay Haywood, Dillsaver surpassed her former teammate during the Auburn match. By virtue of Dillsaver’s start against Alabama, she also set the mark for games started as a sophomore, a mark formerly held by Adrin Pedigo (1988) and Lindsay Haywood (2001).
Another Sophomore Record Going Down: We’ll have to see how the season ends up, but Carrie Dillsaver could put together the greatest season ever by a sophomore goalkeeper at Arkansas if she continues at her current pace. Already setting the minutes played and shutouts records, she is still poised to either match or exceed the sophomore marks for wins, shots faced, saves, goals allowed, and goals against average.
Tops in the Conference: Carrie Dillsaver has been among the conference’s elite when it comes to making a save and the SEC statistics from a few weeks ago confirmed it. Dillsaver has made 81 saves this fall and leads the SEC by eight over Ashley Lindley of Georgia. Lindley was as close as two saves behind a couple weeks ago, but Dillsaver has put some space between herself and the competition.
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).
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.
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 recently tied 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 1.63, 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.
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.
Senior Night: Friday night’s match is the final home game for a pair of Lady Razorback seniors making it senior night. Last season the Lady’Backs rallied around their departing players to defeat the LSU Tigers 3-2 which continued Arkansas’ streak of winning the senior night game to four. The last time Arkansas lost on senior night, Oct. 31, 1999 when it dropped a 3-0 decision to the Oklahoma Sooners.
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.
The Other Senior: Due to illness, Arkansas was without the services of their second senior Erica Lewis for the 2004 season. While she may not be in attendance for Friday night’s showdown with the South Carolina Gamecocks, Arkansas’ players know that their comrade is in their corner as the whistle blows to start the match at 7:00 p.m.
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.
Where Arkansas Stands: With three matches left in the SEC schedule, it is still hard to say where Arkansas will finish the 2004 season, but we can say this, it could be anywhere from second to sixth in the western division. With five teams tightly bunched there is no clear cut favorite for any of the remaining spots behind Auburn’s western division title.
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.
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. She did not play in the Auburn match, but got significant time against Alabama on Sunday.
The Lone Goal: Arkansas’ only goal during the Tennessee-Georgia 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 momentarily relinquished her goals and points lead to freshman Sarah Gwisdala, but don’t count her out. Burger has five goals this season and could have a sixth 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.
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 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. The assist was McCool’s third of the season and 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.
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.
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 16 matches Arkansas is currently 6-8-2 overall while its predecessors were 9-5-2.