End of the Line: Needing a win and help to advance to the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Arkansas picked up three of its four requirements, but failed in the one aspect that it could control by falling to LSU on the road, 3-0. A much closer game than the scoreboard indicated, it was a 1-0 game until the 84th minute, but following an LSU score, the Lady’Backs pushed everyone forward and were caught on a pair of breakaways.
A Nice Run: If you had asked anyone in the Southeastern Conference whether Arkansas would be playing for a chance to make the SEC Tournament at the beginning of the season, most would have said no. The Lady’Backs were preseason fourth in the SEC’s Western Division and were counted out of the championships picture before it started.
Missed Opportunities: While it is hard to pin down Arkansas’ near miss of the SEC Tournament on one game, you could mention the several missed opportunities that presented themselves throughout the season. There was a hit post against Kentucky that would have won the game for Arkansas, a goal conceded to #19 Auburn in the 89th minute to fall 1-0 and an early goal to South Carolina that despite outplaying their opponent, Arkansas could not equalize. If Arkansas could have picked up just one victory in any of those contests, it could be playing for the league title.
Season Highlights: The Lady Razorbacks had numerous season highlights as well as lowlights, but on the bright side. Freshman Sarah Gwisdala was named SEC Player of the Week in early September. Carrie Dillsaver broke numerous class records and established herself as one of the premier goalkeepers in the SEC. Arkansas broke the records for goals in a game and margin of victory in their 11-0 drubbing of Southern in September. Sophomore Katie Hamilton tied the UA record for assists in a game with three against Southern. Arkansas defeated the University of Tulsa for the first time in the last nine meetings. Arkansas’ 2-0-1 start in SEC play was its best in school history. The Lady’Backs average home attendance of 612 is its largest since the 1999 season.
First Season Wrap Up: Head soccer coach Gordon Henderson knew that he had some work to do when he took the head coaching job at Arkansas and after one full season in the league, he understands what needs to be done. Hoping to sign a top notch recruiting class, Henderson goes into the off-season already making plans for the fall. Henderson’s record in his first year was 6-11-2 overall and 2-7-2 in SEC action, but that doesn’t concern the Scottish native as he understands the need to build from the ground up.
Team Bond: There is nothing better than the bond of a team and its teammates and if there is one thing that Gordon Henderson brought to the University of Arkansas in his first season it is that bond. Placing an emphasis on team, Henderson had the Lady Razorbacks playing not for themselves but for each other.
Where to Go: To ask Gordon Henderson where the program is headed would probably come back with the response that it is headed in the right direction and he would probably be right. Losing just one senior from the 2004 roster, the Lady’Backs return a veteran team in ‘05 that is going to be built around a solid core of seniors. One also only has to look back as far as Henderson’s days at Idaho State to know that things can develop quickly. Henderson’s overall record was a modest 56-51-11, but his last four seasons were a robust 47-28-7 with three NCAA Tournament appearances.
The SEC Standings: By virtue of Arkansas’ loss to LSU last Friday evening, the Lady’Backs end the 2004 season in a tie for 10th in the SEC’s overall standings and fifth in the conference’s western division. With an overall record of 6-11-2 and a conference mark of 2-7-2, the Lady’Backs garnered eight points on the year, but needed 10 to make the conference’s tournament. Tennessee won the regular season title with 30 points and a 10-1-0, just ahead of Auburn’s 9-0-2 conference mark and 29 points.
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 had a touch of senior-itis, but that didn’t stop 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 was clearly evident when watching an Arkansas soccer match.
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.
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 saw a boom in attendance. The Lady Razorbacks averaged 612 patrons per match and welcomed crowds of 401, 529, 551, 639, 647, 737 and 742 to Lady’Back Field. Arkansas’ average attendance is seventh among SEC schools this season.
Second Largest Average: Arkansas’ 2004 home attendance average of 612 is the second largest in UA history behind the 1999 season that saw 737 patrons at Lady’Back Field. Looking at the numbers however, one can see that aiding Arkansas in its effort in 1999 was the fact that it had three huge crowds over 700 including one of 938 but not much else.
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.
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 Wednesday night in Auburn, Ala.
CoSIDA Academic All-District: The ballots were just sent to the members of the College Sports Information Director’s of America and on Thursday, Nov. 4, the district winners will be announced. The ballots are for the CoSIDA Academic all-District awards which could lead to academic all-America status, but that release won’t come until Nov. 23. Arkansas’ three nominees for the honor were Carrie Dillsaver, Allison Harris and Katie Hamilton.
Breaking Records: OK, so we missed one, but we won’t miss two, three, four or even five. 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). The other sophomore records which Dillsaver broke are shots faced (234) and perhaps the most impressive of all the records goals against average (1.44). Dillsaver’s GAA of 1.44 destroyed the mark set by Molly Myers in 1990 of 1.80.
Best Season Ever by a Sophomore: In Arkansas’ 19-year history no sophomore goalkeeper has ever put up the numbers that were seen this season by Carrie Dillsaver. Dillsaver set five Arkansas records for sophomores and ranked herself among Arkansas’ single-season elite in every goalkeeping category. Her 1,753 minutes played are third best for a single season, her five shutouts are also third best while her 19 games started and played are tied for second. Her 234 shots faced rank fifth for a single season with goals against (28) ranked sixth and saves (104) ranked eighth.
Fourth in Games Started: It has only been two years, but Carrie Dillsaver is already tied for fourth on Arkansas’ all-time games started list for goalkeepers with 36 starts.
Tops in the Conference: Carrie Dillsaver is among the conference’s elite when it comes to making a save and the SEC statistics confirm it. Dillsaver made 104 saves this fall and leads the SEC by 17 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.
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 1.66, but needs to produce several more shutouts or one-goal matches to achieve that goal.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
Tied at the Top: Sophomore Christina Burger entered the 2004 season as Arkansas’ top returning scorer and ended the season as its leading scorer. Tied with freshman Sarah Gwisdala for 12 points, Burger scored five goals and added two assists.
Another Fine Season: Christina Burger came to the Lady Razorbacks with potential but the sophomore has exceeded all expectations. Despite playing midfield most of the year, Burger was tied for Arkansas’ team lead in points with 12 thanks to five goals and two assists and has accumulated 11 goals and four assists for 26 points in two seasons.