A Preseason Win: The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team was playing its best soccer in several years last Saturday night as it picked up a 1-0 victory over Baylor in an exhibition game at Lady’Back Field. Freshman Megan Fawley scored the game winner with just four minutes to play as 17 Lady Razorbacks contributed to the cause. Fawley’s goal came off a Christina Burger assist as she darted into the penalty area with the ball, then dished to Fawley who knocked a shot off the keeper and into the goal.
Last Season’s Exhibition: The Lady Razorbacks played Baylor in 2004 in an exhibition match in Waco, Texas, and were defeated soundly, 3-0. That experience motivated the Lady Razorbacks to have one of their best non-conference seasons in recent memory. What the win will do is anyone’s guess, but it shouldn’t hurt the confidence of the group.
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.
Defense Looks Solid: The Lady Razorbacks knew coming into the season that their defense would be the strongest part of their game and that showed in Arkansas’ exhibition match as it allowed only six shots with just one making its way to the keeper. The Lady Razorback defensive unit of senior captain Andrea Sparks, senior Katie Taylor and juniors Devon Burger and Allison Harris never looked pressured throughout the contest despite several spirited attacks by the Bear offense.
Beginning the Season: Friday night marks the fourth consecutive season that the Lady Razorbacks begin their season in the month of August and it is the first time since 1999 that the season starts against the University of Tulsa. After two solid weeks of two-a-day practices and a tease of a game with their exhibition match, the Lady Razorbacks are ready to get 2005 started.
The History of Opening Day: The Lady Razorbacks have never been tremendous on opening day as they hold a career record of 8-10-1 in first matches of the season. The more recent years have been an even bigger struggle as Arkansas has lost its last three season openers and five of the last six. Arkansas’ last opening day win came against Texas Tech in Fayetteville, 6-1, in 2001.
Opening on the Road: In Arkansas’ 19-year history of women’s soccer, the Lady Razorbacks have opened the season on the road 10 times and amassed a record of just 2-7-1. Interestingly, six of those opening day road matches have come in the last seven years.
Arkansas Versus Tulsa: It is the longest rivalry in the Lady Razorback record books with 23 career meetings between the two schools over 19 years. Tulsa holds a decided advantage in the win column with 17 compared to Arkansas’ five, but the Lady Razorbacks ended a 10-year, seven match winless streak with a victory at Lady’Back field in 2004. Arkansas’ last victory in Tulsa came during the 1993 season when they scored a lone goal to notch the win.
Tulsa’s Season Opener: While the Lady Razorbacks have at least an exhibition match under their belts, Tulsa enters the game with only practices to fall back on. Only time will tell which strategy works best when the teams clash on Friday, Aug. 26.
The Golden Hurricane: Under a new head coach, Tulsa had a decent 2004 season as they went 4-3-1 in the WAC to finish fifth overall and posted a 7-10-4 season record. Leading the way for the Golden Hurricane were the 1-2 punch of Carrie Schnarre and Katie Ward who combined for 40 of Tulsa’s 84 points including 14 goals. In goal, Tulsa lost the services of their top two goalkeepers and return a sophomore who saw action in just five games and 335 minutes in 2004.
A Strong Returning Core: While Tulsa may have lost its starting goalkeeper, it does return eight starters to the field including the top five goal scorers from its 2004 squad. Looking at the returning players there are not many holes as three are defenders, two midfielders and three forwards.
Last Year Against Tulsa: The Lady Razorbacks broke a 10-year, seven match winless streak to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in 2004 when Megan McCool knocked in a 22 yard laser that snuck under the cross bar just 1:19 into the contest. Played in Fayetteville, the Lady’Backs used a strong defense to limit Tulsa to seven shots, three on face and stymie their nemesis.
Last Time in Tulsa: The Lady Razorbacks were able to enjoy a new University of Tulsa field in their last meeting with the Golden Hurricane, but despite a goal from Devon Burger were unable to take the victory, falling 2-1.
One-Goal Matches: Games between Arkansas and Tulsa are almost always close and the proof comes in that each of the last five matches have been decided by one goal and 13 of the 23 career meeting have come down to a single score.
The Oklahoma Sooners: Coming off a disappointing season by Oklahoma standards, the Sooners compiled a 7-8-3 overall record and a 3-7-0 mark in Big 12 play. Eight starters return to the team in 2005 making it a veteran squad that has beaten the Lady Razorbacks every year since 1998.
No Luck: The Lady Razorbacks have struggled against the Sooner nation, dropping all six career meetings with their foe including a heartbreaking 2-1 decision last year in Fayetteville.
Top Returnees: While Oklahoma may have lost three starters, they didn’t lose much when it comes to firepower. The Sooners bring back all their top goal scorers from last year’s team including junior Savannah Scott who tallied six goals and an assist for 13 points.
Last Year Against Oklahoma: Scoreless at the half, Oklahoma got on the scoreboard first with a goal at 48:36 off a corner kick. Another 20 minutes would play out before the Lady Razorbacks tied the score at one at 75:06 when Oklahoma native Katie Stauffer scored her first career goal on a 3-yard shot off an indirect Allison Harris free kick. Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, the euphoria of the goal led to a defense lapse and Oklahoma scored just 52 seconds later on an eight-yard shot by Andrea Hurley.
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 two-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 has played in and tallied a staggering 1.66 goals against average.
Moving Up the Charts: Unless the Lady Razorbacks have a year that will be remembered by the nation, Carrie Dillsaver may not eclipse all the Lady Razorback goalkeeping records, but her three-year assault on them will take her awfully close. Dillsaver is currently ranked between two and six on all the Lady Razorback career charts and has a chance to break most of the records with another year like she has displayed.
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.
The Backbone: The Lady Razorbacks have assembled a strong defensive unit that has played together for two seasons and during that time has accumulated more than 144 starts between the four players. Seniors Andrea Sparks and Katie Taylor are assisted by juniors Allison Harris and Devon Burger to anchor the back for Arkansas and adding in senior Carrie Dillsaver in goal and you have five starters that have seen almost everything opposing offenses can throw at them.
Proof of a Solid Defense: The proof of Arkansas’ defensive prowess is its ability to keep balls out of the net. In 2003 the Lady Razorbacks allowed 42 goals. The 2004 squad allowed a mere 28 for a 33% improvement. Could the 2005 team be even better? Only time will tell.
Too Bad: It’s unfortunate for Carrie Dillsaver and the rest of the Lady Razorbacks that the Baylor match doesn’t count toward their career statistics. If they did, Dillsaver would have notched her 13th win placing her fifth all-time by herself, her ninth shutout tying her with Kerri Reifel for third all-time and dropped her goals against average to 1.62 keeping her in second.
A Strong Class: The Lady Razorbacks got off to a good start in 2005 when their recruiting class was ranked for the first time by SoccerBuzz, an online women’s soccer magazine. Coming in at 14th in the central region and 54th overall, Arkansas’ coaches are excited to see what their newcomers will add to the field of play this fall.
Offensive Production: The question that has been on the minds of everyone associated with Arkansas soccer is where the offense is going to come from. Junior Christina Burger has been Arkansas’ leading scorer for each of the past two seasons, while sophomore Sarah Gwisdala led the team in goals in 2004. Those two weapons will be key to Arkansas’ success, but they will need help if the Lady’Backs plan to go far this fall.
The Top Threat: It doesn’t matter if she is playing forward, outside midfield or center midfield, Christina Burger gets the job done and can flat out score. With 11 goals and five assists over her first two seasons, Burger is a player that can cause opposing defenses to have fits as she moves around the field to best utilize her unique abilities. It also doesn’t hurt that she is also one of the fastest players on the Lady Razorback roster.