Another Split: The Lady Razorbacks procured their third weekend split in three tries this past weekend after dropping a 2-1 decision to Liberty University on Friday, then defeating Southeastern Louisiana, 2-0, on Sunday.
Non-Conference Wrap-Up: The Lady Razorbacks ended their non-conference schedule on Sunday afternoon on a high note when they defeated Southeastern Louisiana. Arkansas finished the beginning part of its schedule 3-4-0, missing one game to Hurricane Katrina.
Let the New Season Begin: The conclusion of the non-conference schedule can only mean one thing; the Southeastern Conference is right around the corner. The Lady Razorbacks open their SEC schedule on the road at Vanderbilt and Kentucky as the entire SEC begins play against each other this weekend.
Radio Broadcasts: With the beginning of the conference season, Arkansas also brings about the start of local radio broadcasts on KXUA, 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. The Lady Razorbacks and KXUA begin their seventh season together in 2005. Phil Pierce handles the play-by-play while Wade Parsons provides color commentary for the matches this weekend.
Also on the Internet: While not as big a piece of news, Arkansas’ broadcasts this weekend will also be made available to those on the internet at www.ladybacks.com. Lady Razorback home matches have been available on ladybacks.com all season with live video, commentary and statistics, but the road conference matches provide audio broadcasts.
Burger Shows a Spring in her Step: Junior Christina Burger proved the old saying that you can’t keep a good person down last weekend as she played potentially her best soccer of the season. Flying all over the field, Burger had numerous chances in both of Arkansas’ matches, but made the most of her opportunities against Southeastern Louisiana as she scored twice.
First Multi-Goal Game Since: Christina Burger’s two-goal effort against Southeastern Louisiana matched her career high for goals in a game and was the first time she has accomplished the feat since Oct. 5, 2003 when she netted two goals in 17 seconds against the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.
Leading Scorer: Christina Burger’s two goals and one assist over the weekend give her nine points on the season and move her into the Lady Razorback scoring lead. The leading returning scorer in each of the past two seasons, Burger tied Arkansas’ top scorers against Liberty with an assist, then reclaimed the top scoring spot with her first goal against Southeastern.
The Arkansas-Vanderbilt Series: Only the University of Tulsa has played more games against the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks than Vanderbilt over the past 20 years. Beginning in 1987, Arkansas and Vandy have met 17 times in both regular season and SEC Tournament settings with the Commodores holding a solid advantage at 10-6-1.
Lately: While Vanderbilt holds a decided advantage in the all-time series, Arkansas has had the Commodores number over the past three seasons. Beginning with an improbable come-from-behind victory in which Arkansas was down by two goals with 10 minutes to play, followed by Julie Williford’s two-goal game that made her Arkansas’ all-time leading scorer and eventually to an own goal that led to a 2-1 Lady Razorback victory.
Last Season: Vanderbilt traveled to Fayetteville to play under the lights and amid the glow of television cameras in 2004. An early own goal by the Commodores had them playing from behind, but they would tie the match at one before halftime. Both teams battled in the second half and it wasn’t until the 84th minute that Arkansas got its opportunity. Sarah Gwisdala connected on a 14-foot shot that was sent to her by Megan McCool allowing the Lady Razorbacks to open SEC play with a victory.
The Commodores: Vanderbilt enters Friday’s match with one of its best teams in years and the proof is on the scoreboard. The Commodores own a 7-1-0 overall record and have rattled off seven consecutive victories to put them in first place in the SEC’s Eastern Division ahead of such teams as Florida and Tennessee. Vanderbilt is also a modest 4-0-0 at home this season.
The Southeastern Conference Standings: Arkansas’ trio of weekend splits has it at 3-4-0 on the year and in fourth among the SEC’s Western Division teams. Not far from third, LSU and a 4-2-0 record, the Lady Razorbacks know that things can change in an instant with the start of conference play as the records are thrown out and teams earn three points for a win and one point for a tie against conference opponents.
The Kentucky Wildcats: Kentucky enters the weekend as the only undefeated team in the SEC and still they are in third place in the SEC East. Four wins and four ties have the Wildcats in the unusual predicament of being undefeated and not at the top of their league. Last weekend Kentucky won 3-1 over Marshall, then tied Western Kentucky 1-1 making them an unpredictable team.
Arkansas versus Kentucky: Over the years it has been a serious advantage for the Kentucky Wildcats as they own a 7-2-1 overall record against the Lady Razorbacks. Between 1995 and 2003, Kentucky was undefeated; rattling off six consecutive wins, but beginning in 2000, the tide began to shift. After three straight multi-goal wins, Arkansas lost in the final seconds of the 2000 game in Lexington on a header off a corner kick. The 2002 matchup saw Kentucky dominate to the tune of a 3-1 win, but 2003 was another close match, this time an overtime thriller as the Wildcats escaped on their home turf for the second consecutive match, 3-2. Arkansas finally got over the hump in 2004 when they forced a 1-1 tie with the Wildcats, their first decision since 1994.
Last Season: Tied at the half, Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute when Sarah Gwisdala showed her technical abilities by dribbling around a trio of Kentucky players and hitting a left-footed shot into the goal. On their heels, Kentucky came charging back to score moments later on a corner kick that forced overtime. The game would end in a 1-1 tie and snap a six match winning streak for the Wildcats over Arkansas.
And it Continues: Carrie Dillsaver’s ascent to the top of Arkansas’ career goalkeeping categories began in Arkansas’ first match of the season as she notched her 13th career win to place herself alone in fifth place all-time. Her 39th start against Kansas placed her in a fourth on the games started list.
Where She Stands Now: Carrie Dillsaver creeps ever closer to the Lady Razorback’s career goalkeeping records. She started her 43rd career game (third), notched her 15th win (fifth), faced her 499th shot (fifth), made her 200th save (fifth), dropped her goals against average to 1.58 (second) and recorded her 10th shutout (third).
One of Five: Carrie Dillsaver only had to make one save against Southeastern Louisiana, but it was a big one. That save was the 200th of her two-and-a-half-year career and makes her just the fifth Lady Razorback to ever stop that many shots.
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 three-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 solid 1.66 goals against average.
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, 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.
Injury Update: The Lady Razorbacks have been bit by the injury bug this season, but the news is beginning to get better. Sarah Gwisdala returned from her ankle injury and continues to improve with each training session. Andrea Sparks had arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks back and is planning her first training session with the team on Tuesday afternoon. Allison Harris’ knee injury that required surgery was found to not be as bad as first thought and she may be able to return to the field by the end of the season. Alison Harter’s leg is mending nicely and she is to be re-evaluated this week. Finally, Katie Hamilton has shown improvement with her back injury and could return to action in the next couple of weeks baring any setbacks.
Lineup Changes: Due to the rash of injuries, the Lady Razorbacks have had to be creative with their personnel and the result is five different starting lineups in seven games. The only two times Arkansas used the same 11 starters were in games one and two and six and seven. Otherwise it has been musical positions as players have compensated for the loss of their teammates.
Playing Her Best Soccer: Some athletes struggle their senior years as they determine what to do in the next stage of their lives, but not Megan McCool. The Bethany, Okla., native is playing the best soccer of her four-year career and the effort shows. She is on pace to eclipse her career best point total for a season and has been all over the field in each of Arkansas’ seven matches making her a constant threat.
Leading the Charge: Megan McCool stepped up her scoring prowess in 2005 and led the Lady Razorbacks with two goals and an assist for five points prior to this weekend. She is currently second on the team in scoring with two goals and two assists.
Needing McCool to Score: Perhaps it is just coincidence, or maybe it means something, but when Megan McCool scores, Arkansas wins. In each of the Lady Razorback wins, McCool has either a goal or an assist making her a valuable asset.
McCool Back in the Swing: After an off year in terms of scoring, Megan McCool is back to her old ways. In her first four games this season she had two goals and an assist for five points matching her point total from a year ago. Her career high for points in a season is 12 which she scored during her sophomore season on four goals and four assists.
Newcomers Getting Plenty of Time: The Lady Razorback newcomers are seeing plenty of action this fall as all eight have seen the field at one point or another and four have made starts. Abbey Wilburn and Megan Fawley have each started all seven Lady Razorback contests with Leah Collison and Tara Sageser each getting one start.
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.
Megan of all Trades: First there was the term Jack-of-all-trades, now its Megan-of-all trades. After her preseason goal against Baylor as a forward/midfielder, Arkansas’ coaching staff moved her to defender to fill a hole and the Richardson, Texas, native was up to the task as she played every moment of each of Arkansas’ first seven regular season matches.
Feast or Famine: Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks the 2005 season has been feast or famine when it comes to goals. In Arkansas’ three wins it has scored 10 times, but in the four losses, the Lady Razorbacks have scored just once and been shut out three times.
Getting on the Board Early: The Lady Razorbacks have proven this season that getting on the scoreboard first in women’s soccer is a huge advantage. The Lady Razorbacks have been the first to score in each of their three wins and in the four losses, allowed their opponents to score the first goal.
A First: While it will take some deep digging to make the point concrete, it is believed that Tara Sageser is the first Lady Razorback in 20 years to score two goals in her first match wearing the Cardinal and White. For a fact she is the first going back to the 1994 season, but records prior to then will take some time to recover.
Not a Bad Opener: If you had told the Arkansas coaching staff that they would split their opening weekend on the road prior to the season, they would have been happy. If you told them they would win the first match 5-1, they would have been ecstatic. Of course, as with all things, following the first win, the entire Arkansas team wanted to pick up an opening weekend sweep, but a 1-0 start to the season was just fine.
Opening at 1-0: The Lady Razorback’s victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane was the first time since the 2000 season that the Lady Razorbacks opened the season with a win and the first time since 1998 that they accomplished the task on the road.