The SEC Tournament: Believe it or not, the Lady Razorbacks still have a chance to compete at the 2004 Southeastern Conference Championship Tournament. With a win against LSU and some help the Lady Razorbacks are bound for Auburn, Ala.
The Help: For Arkansas to make the SEC Tournament three things have to happen, all of which are likely. Kentucky must lose at home to Vanderbilt, Georgia must tie or lose at Tennessee and South Carolina must lose or tie at home against Florida.
Tournament Seeding: If Arkansas is fortunate enough to get the help it needs for the SEC Tournament then it would enter the four-day affair as the eight seed and play the one seed which will be either Auburn or Tennessee.
Another Tough Weekend: The Lady Razorbacks went into the weekend needing to pick up a win to try and solidify a spot at the SEC Tournament, but instead were swept by South Carolina and Florida. Arkansas dropped a 1-0 decision to the Gamecocks at home before going to Gainesville and falling 2-1 against the Gators.
Something to Take Away: Despite the two losses, the Lady Razorbacks take away confidence from the weekend as they once again played a top 25 team close. Arkansas’ loss to Florida is their third loss to a top 25 squad with two of the three coming by just one goal. The third defeat was a two-goal loss.
And it All Comes Down to This: This one, once again, is for all the marbles. The Lady Razorbacks need to beat the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge for an opportunity to play at the SEC Tournament. The last time Arkansas needed a win against the Tigers in Baton Rouge for a chance at the tourney, they tied, 1-1, in the fall of 2002.
The Arkansas-LSU Series: For some reason the Arkansas-LSU match always means something. Most years it’s for a chance to play in the SEC Tournament, two of the last four years, and sometimes it’s for other things. The Lady Razorbacks hold the upper hand in the nine-game set with five wins and a tie, but have not been as successful in Baton Rouge as they are 1-3-1 in the capital of Louisiana.
When Last They Met: Arkansas and LSU last faced each other in 2003 with nothing on the line except pride. On a chilly Halloween night in Fayetteville, the Lady Razorbacks defeated the Tigers, 3-2 thanks to a late goal off a direct free kick by then freshman Kristie Holman who knocked a 20-yard shot between two defenders heads and into the far corner for the game winner. It was also the last time that Arkansas’ all-time leading scorer Julie Williford would score a goal as she deposited her 44th career tally on a header that came off another free kick, this one by Allison Harris.
LSU: While Arkansas has everything to play for, LSU really has nothing other than pride. Mathematically eliminated from the SEC Tournament, the LSU Tigers enter the game with an overall record of 6-11-1 and a conference mark of 1-8-1 for four points in SEC action.
Watch for Brown: LSU’s Artie Brown and Stacy Bishop are the keys to the Tiger offense. The tandem has scored 41 of LSU’s 52 points accounting for all but three of the Tiger’s goals.
First SEC Goal: It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but it went into the net. Arkansas freshman Ali Harter capitalized on a Florida miscue and struck a ball into the goal to make it a one-goal game against the 25th-ranked Florida Gators last Sunday afternoon. The score is Harter’s second career goal and first in SEC play.
Goal Against the Gators: Ali Harter’s goal against the Florida Gators is not a feat that should be taken lightly. In nine games against Florida, Arkansas has only scored nine goals, five of which came over two games. The score did keep the Gators from shutting out the Lady Razorbacks for the fourth consecutive match.
The SEC Standings: The SEC Standings are not even close to being set despite just one game left to play in conference action. Auburn and Tennessee have each clinched their respective divisions and Florida is second in the east no matter what happens over the weekend. The only other spots that have been solidified are Arkansas’ and LSU’s fifth- and sixth-place finish in the west and Vanderbilt’s third-place finish in the east. The two, three and four spots in the west and five, six spots in the east are still up for grabs.
Injury Update: The Lady Razorbacks have been fortunate throughout the season that no one has suffered any major injuries. Aside from minor aches and pains, each member of the Lady Razorback roster is available for action this Friday night.
Broken Hand: It wasn’t obvious and it didn’t knock her out of the game immediately, but sophomore midfielder Katie Stauffer suffered a broken left hand in Arkansas’ match with South Carolina last Friday night. Placed in a removable cast, Stauffer was available for Sunday’s match with Florida although she did not see any action.
Senior Night: It was a tough senior night for the Lady Razorbacks. It started with the presentation of senior gifts where one of their senior teammates could not be with them and continued into the game where Arkansas fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks 1-0. Arkansas’ loss on senior night was the first time the graduating class left disappointed since the 1999 season.
Tough Until the End: She may not admit to it, but senior Jenni Brashear has heart. The Little Rock native may have a touch of senior-itis, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a menace to defenses on the field. Head coach Gordon Henderson says that Brashear plays better after she gets hit hard on the field, and that is clearly evident when watching an Arkansas soccer match. Look for Brashear to have a major impact in Arkansas’ regular season finale.
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.
Surging Attendance: The Lady Razorbacks enjoyed their largest crowds of the season when they welcomed more than 1,400 fans to Lady’Back Field during the Auburn/Alabama weekend. 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 612: 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 averaged 612 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sixth in Games Started: It has only been two years, but Carrie Dillsaver is already sixth on Arkansas’ all-time games started list for goalkeepers with 35 starts. A start against LSU on Friday night would place her in a tie for fourth. If Arkansas moves on to the SEC Tournament, she could take fourth alone and put herself in position to break Arkansas’ all-time leader Molly Myers (61).
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 96 saves this fall and leads the SEC by 14 over Ashley Lindley of Georgia. Lindley was as close as two saves behind a few weeks ago, but good or bad; 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.
SEC Post Season Awards: The nominations are in and each of the 12 member institutions of the SEC are eagerly awaiting the results. The nominations we talk about are for the SEC’s post-season awards which will be announced at the annual tournament kickoff banquet next Wednesday night in Auburn, Ala.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.