Make it Six: With its losses to #23 Florida and South Carolina last weekend, Arkansas has now lost six consecutive matches. The Lady Razorbacks face the LSU Tigers on Friday night in an attempt to break that streak and avoid its worst end of season slide since the 1995 season.
Close but No Cigar: One of the most amazing things about the Lady Razorbacks this fall is that they have been close in every match this season. In years gone by, Arkansas was bound to lose a game or two by three or more goals, but in 2007 the Lady Razorbacks have lost five one-goal matches, three two-goal games, tied one and won by two.
Wrapping it Up: Arkansas’ match with the LSU Tigers on Friday night ends its 2007 season. Mathematically eliminated from postseason competition, senior night at Lady’Back Field concludes a season of ups and downs for the Lady Razorback soccer squad.
Senior Night: Prior to the match on Friday night, the Lady Razorbacks will honor its departing seniors who are playing (or watching) their final games at Lady’Back Field. Defender Sarah Gwisdala (torn ACL) will watch the action from the sideline while defender Allison Harris and midfielder/forward Alison Harter are expected in the starting 11.
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 77 games of her career over five 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.
Number Two: With her start on Friday night, Allison Harris moves herself into second all-time in games started with 78. She is one behind all-time leader Holly Collins (79).
The LSU Tigers: The LSU Tigers are also coming off a rough weekend of play with a 1-1 tie at home against South Carolina and a 5-0 drubbing by the Florida Gators in Gainesville. The loss and tie moved the Tigers to 10-3-6 overall and 4-2-4 in SEC play. The weekend did little to affect LSU’s standing though as they still sit atop the SEC’s Western Division with 16 points.
Conference Leaders: As the two-pronged attack of Rachel Yepez and Malorie Rutledge go, so go the LSU Tigers. Yepez leads the SEC in goals scored with 11 and Rutledge has that many assists. The duo is both ranked among the conference’s top three in scoring.
An Even Series: Arkansas and LSU have played some memorable games in years past, usually with the context of “the winner of this match moves on to the SEC Championship Tournament.” While the 2007 match up won’t have the same hype going into it, the game should be entertaining as the two teams have played a one-goal match in five of their last seven meetings including a tie. LSU leads the all-time series by one, 6-5-1.
Last Fall: The Lady Razorbacks traveled to LSU on the final Friday night of the season needing a win to keep its SEC Tournament hopes alive. On a night of steady and strong winds, the Lady Razorbacks could not find their scoring touch and lost to the Tigers, 1-0. The win propelled LSU to the tournament and kept Arkansas from qualifying.
Cut Me Mick: OK, so the movie quote is a little misleading, but the knot that Megan Fawley sustained at the South Carolina match was every bit of real. Catching a head just above her right eye, Fawley developed a welt that only a boxer could love. Protruding at least an inch, Fawley iced the wound on the return trip from South Carolina and is listed as day-to-day on the injury chart.
The Unsung Hero: Arkansas’ defense has been outstanding all season and there has been no question that the cohesive unit which is the back four is a major reason why. However, analyzing the play of the back line, one always comes to center back Megan Fawley as one of the major factors. Fawley is one of the most consistent players that Arkansas has anywhere on the field and is a tremendous leader in the back for what has become a young group.
Returned from Injury: One of the things people may not know about Megan Fawley is that she saw only sparse minutes as a sophomore due to an Achilles injury. A starter for the Lady Razorbacks as a true freshman, she missed most of her sophomore year and returns as a junior with only 23 games experience.
The SEC Standings: With just one game left in the conference season for most teams, the SEC picture is certainly not set. In the west LSU holds a one-point lead over Auburn and can clinch the division title with a win, but and LSU tie or loss combined with an Auburn win and Auburn takes the division crown. In the east Tennessee has a two-point cushion on Georgia, but watch out for the Florida Gators. By virtue of an early season rainout, the Gators still have two matches to play and could make things interesting. A Tennessee win on Friday however would clinch them the division title.
The Road to Orange Beach: The path to the SEC Championship Tournament is almost set with six teams already earning a berth. Guaranteed a spot at the tourney are Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, LSU and Auburn. Mississippi and Vanderbilt are currently on the inside of the top eight, but their positions could be tedious.
The Records are a Falling: Last weekend was a huge one when you look at Lady Razorback records and more specifically how they relate to freshman goalkeeper Britni Williams. With her solid performances against Florida and South Carolina, Williams broke Arkansas’ freshman records for minutes played, shots faced and games started. She now holds or shares five Lady Razorback freshman records and could get a single-season mark or two by the end of the LSU match.
Records to Watch for: Some of the records that could be matched or exceeded by Britni Williams by the end of the LSU match include single season goals against average, single season shots faced in SEC play, single season saves in SEC play, and single season shutouts in SEC play.
Still Among the Top 100: Arkansas’ late season slide is one that could be tough on any goalkeeper’s statistics, but Britni Williams still finds herself among the nation’s top 100 goalkeepers in both goals against average and save percentage as teams enter the final weekend of regular season play. Ranked 88th in the nation in goals against average at .847, Williams made huge strides forward with her save percentage this week going from 62nd to 47th (.844) in the country.
Matching a Second: Having already secured the record for shutouts by an Arkansas freshman, Britni Williams matched a second record against Mississippi State by recording her eighth win. She tied the 20-year-old mark of Adrin Pedigo with the victory and has the potential to break all eight of Arkansas’ freshman goalkeeping records by the end of the season.
Williams Named Freshman of the Week: Britni Williams was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week based on her performances against Louisiana Tech and Centenary. Over the weekend she made six saves against 16 shots and did not allow a goal as she claimed her fourth shutout of the season.
Only the Second: Britni Williams is just the second Lady Razorback to earn a Freshman of the Week honor. Abbey Wilburn was the first back in October of 2005.
A Lady Razorback First: Britni Williams made her mark on Arkansas 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.
Shutouts Galore: The Lady Razorbacks matched their single-season record for shutouts against Mississippi State when they booked their eighth of the season. Arkansas has recorded eight shutouts two times before, 1991 and 1996 and has nine games left to break the record.
Getting on the Scoreboard First: After opening the season with 10 consecutive matches of scoring first, the Lady Razorbacks have failed to do so in each of their last eight contests. Arkansas record during that time, a dismal 0-7-1. Arkansas is 8-2-0 when scoring first so an early goal could end what ails the Lady Razorbacks.
Another Telling Stat: Another stat that speaks volumes is what happens when Arkansas outshoots its opponent. In games where Arkansas has more shots, it is 8-1-0. When getting outshot by their foe, the Lady Razorbacks are an abysmal 0-8-1.
Dangerous Combination: For the second time this season, the Lady Razorbacks have connected for a goal on a Lindsay Patterson throw in to Kathleen Paulsen. The first time was at Centenary, but that took effort, the Kentucky goal was a throw by Patterson into the penalty area which Paulsen flicked on with the outside of her foot.
Working Hard: Lindsay Patterson has been one of the hardest working Lady’Backs this fall and with running mate Kelly O’Connor down for the season, Patterson’s work just increased. In a position that often gets substituted frequently, she played the entire match against Alabama and most of the contests with Auburn and Kentucky.
Game-Tying Strike: The Lady Razorbacks scored the game-tying goal against Tennessee midway through the second half thanks to the play of freshman Ally Atkins and junior Lindsay Patterson. Atkins dribbled deep into Tennessee territory before leaving the ball off for Patterson who left the Lady Vol goalkeeper no chance at a save. Patterson’s goal was the first game-tying strike of the season by a Lady Razorback who has become accustomed to playing out in front.
The Injured: A look at the list of Lady Razorback injuries can be staggering. Currently, three Lady Razorbacks are deemed out for the remainder of the season. Sophomore Kim Schleif is still doubtful with her high ankle sprain and Whitney Allison and Megan Fawley are day-to-day with their injuries. Of the 23 members of the Lady Razorback roster, 11 have spent at least some time on Arkansas’ triage list. Combined with two goalkeepers and a redshirt, that left just nine field players who have been healthy the entire season.
A Tough October: At the end of September Arkansas’ injuries began to mount and that has led to a tough month of October. Since the calendar turned, Arkansas has gone 0-7-1, losing its last six matches. Arkansas’ lone tie was an incredible effort against #6 Tennessee on Oct. 7 at Lady’Back Field.
Lost Scoring: Prior to Arkansas’ rash of injuries, the Lady Razorbacks had started to put together a system that works in terms of scoring. The injuries have decimated that approach and the Lady’Backs are struggling to find their offensive identity. To put this into some perspective, Arkansas’ three players on the sideline count for 22 percent of the team’s offense this fall. The largest loss was freshman Kelly O’Connor who still leads the team in scoring despite not having played since Oct. 5.
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.
Near Record Attendance: The Lady Razorback soccer team is enjoying the benefit of near record attendances this fall with an average home crowd of 681. The total is the second largest in Lady Razorback history (2005, 703) and has been accomplished by three of Arkansas’ top 10 single-game crowds making their way to Lady’Back Field.