A Tough Match in Norfolk: A howling wind in Arkansas’ face prevented the Lady’Backs from accomplishing much in the first half and Old Dominion punished the Lady’Backs for two goals in opening period. Arkansas had its chances, but was not able to put the desired pressure on its opponent, eventually falling 3-1 in Norfolk, Va.
The Next Season: Many coaches believe that there are three seasons in team sports, the non-conference, conference and post season. Using that as a moniker, Arkansas is about to enter its second season as it begins Southeastern Conference play on Friday night at Lady’Back Field against Vanderbilt University.
Welcome Fox Sports: For the first time in eight years, Lady’Back Field will be visited by television crews as Fox Sports returns to televise the Arkansas-Vanderbilt match. Fox Sports Net broadcasts several Southeastern Conference soccer matches each year and the 2004 game is the fourth time that Arkansas has played on television.
Arkansas’ TV Record: Having four games on the boob tube over the past eight seasons isn’t bad and Arkansas has a respectable 1-2-1 record when on the set. Losing in the SEC Championship game in 1996 to Florida was Arkansas first match followed by a loss to LSU in 2000 and a tie of the Tigers in 2002. The Lady Razorbacks however, have always been at home or at a neutral site making the 2004 contest more interesting.
The Vanderbilt Commodores: The Vanderbilt Commodores struggled early, but may have found the winning combination after an offensive explosion last weekend. Opening the year with a 1-1 tie to Wake Forest, Vandy then lost its next four matches to bring its season total to 0-4-1. Last Sunday, Vanderbilt picked up its first win, a 4-0 drubbing of Drury University in Nashville, Tenn.
Leading Scorer: It may be of no coincidence, but Vanderbilt’s leading scorer in their match with Drury Lea Lafield is also their leading scorer this season. Lafield has a goal and two assists for the Commodores to lead the way.
Offensive Short Circuit: Vanderbilt picked up a quality tie against Wake Forest to open the season, but since that one-goal performance only tallied a single goal over their next four matches. The Vanderbilt offense did explode against Drury University, but it is unclear at this time whether that was the beginning of what is to come, or an abnormality.
The Series: Vanderbilt and Arkansas have enjoyed several outstanding moments over the years and in 18 years have faced off 15 times with Vanderbilt holding a commanding lead in the series at 10-4-1. On Arkansas’ side though is the fact that they have beaten the Commodores in each of the past two seasons.
Last Meeting: Then senior Julie Williford scored two goals to eclipse Arkansas’ all-time record for goals and points in a career and pace the Lady’Backs to a 2-0 shutout of the Commodores. The shutout was the first by a Lady Razorback squad against Vanderbilt since the 1996 SEC tournament.
Burger Back in Front: It may have taken until game eight, but Christina Burger is back in front of Arkansas’ scoring. The leading scorer from a year ago, Burger netted her fourth goal of the season against Old Dominion and added to her two assists, she has 10 points on the season.
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.
The Kentucky Wildcats: After a startling and unprecedented 0-4-0 start, the Kentucky Wildcats are once again back in the swing of things and have won their last three matches. Last weekend the Wildcats defeated the University of Missouri, 1-0, in Lexington and are currently in fifth place in the SEC Western Division.
SEC Offensive Player of the Week: Kentucky sophomore Elisabeth Jones was named the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Week for her assist on Kentucky’s game-winning goal against Missouri. She has tallied a point in all but one Kentucky match this season and is on pace to break the Wildcats single-season record for assists.
Kentucky vs. Arkansas: After taking an early 2-1 lead in the season series, Arkansas’ luck against the Wildcats has been used up. Kentucky has won the past six meetings between the two squads including a controversial overtime thriller in 2003.
Overtime: Last season Arkansas and Kentucky played a memorable match that included some great scoring and incredible goal play, but what it is most known for in Arkansas soccer circles is how the game ended. Arkansas goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver came out to the top of the penalty area to grab a high bouncing ball and upon grabbing it in the air was knocked down allowing the ball to roll free. Kentucky’s Elisabeth Jones then kicked the ball into the net for the golden goal.
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.
Averaging 523: The Lady Razorbacks opened the 2004 season with great attendance numbers. Averaging 523 through three games, the Lady Razorbacks are well ahead of last season’s numbers where they brought in 386 per contest. Looking at last season’s national numbers, the Lady’Back average attendance would rank among the top 50 should the season end today.
Weekend Madness: That’s what the Lady Razorbacks are hoping to get from their crowd on both Friday and Sunday. Family Weekend, UA students get free admission to the game. Friday night is also Siloam Springs day which has brought big crowds to difference events in the past.
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.
The SEC Standings: It has become a real mess in the Southeastern Conference standings with Florida emerging from the pile with the best record in the SEC. Sitting atop the eastern division they are trailed by South Carolina at 6-3-0, with Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt rounding out the east. In the west it’s much tighter with Auburn holding the top spot at 5-2-0 and LSU sitting at 5-3-0. Alabama is third at 4-3-0 and Arkansas and Ole Miss are tied for fourth at an even 4-4-0.
Best Non-Conference Season: While just 4-4-0, the Lady Razorbacks are enjoying 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 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 seasons began similarly in that both teams opened with a 1-1-0 record.
The 1996-2004 Prognosis: The 1996-2004 debate could wage all season, but there is at least one thing for certain, Arkansas’ 2004 team has an equal record after eight games than the 1996 squad. At 4-4-0, the 2004 team has a chance to best their counterparts with a win against Vanderbilt on Friday since Arkansas lost to Mississippi State in game nine of the 1996 season, 1-0 in overtime. The 1996 team produced a split in their SEC opening weekend when they beat Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon.
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.
Make it Seven: Sophomore goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver must like Arkansas’ new system. Her four victories this season have all come on shutouts giving her seven for her career. The feat moved her up to fourth 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.
Returning Starter: If there is one thing for sure, it’s that Carrie Dillsaver will start in goal for the Lady Razorbacks this fall. The only goalkeeper with experience on the roster, Dillsaver was Arkansas’ starter last season and did a fabulous job between the posts as she accumulated a 1.92 goals against average in an Arkansas record 1,549 minutes played by a freshman.
Record Setter: Carrie Dillsaver beat out a senior for the starting goalkeeper’s position in 2003 and after doing so, set the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback record for minutes played in goal by a freshman. Ironically, Dillsaver broke the record that had been set four years earlier by the same senior whom she beat out for the starting position.
Already One of the 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.
Fourth in the League: Carrie Dillsaver has been excellent between the posts this season and the effort has not been unnoticed. She was ranked fourth in the Southeastern Conference in goals against average with an outstanding 0.86 GAA last week. Ashley Lindley of Georgia led the way with a 0.47 GAA.
Leading the Way: Carrie Dillsaver and the rest of the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team were the league leaders when it came to shutouts a week ago. With four in seven matches, Arkansas is ahead of Ole Miss who had three.
Getting on the Board First: The Lady Razorbacks are starting to develop a trend in the 2004 season and that is to be successful they must get on the scoreboard first. In all four of its wins, Arkansas was the first to score and coincidentally, all four wins were shutouts. In the four losses, the Lady’Backs were forced to play from behind.
Widespread Scoring: For the past three seasons Arkansas’ opponents knew to key on Julie Williford, but the 2004 Lady Razorbacks are much more unpredictable. With 21 goals this year, one would think that Arkansas had that one go-to person, but that is certainly not the case. Christina Burger and Sarah Gwisdala have four goals each, but all told 11 Lady Razorbacks have at least one goal and 15 of the 20 active players have at least one point.
First Goals: With such a variety from the scoring department, several Lady Razorbacks have netted their first career goals this season. Freshmen Sarah Gwisdala, Carmen Davis and Ali Harter, sophomores Katie Hamilton, Katie Stauffer and Allison Harris and junior Meredith Thompson can each claim their first collegiate scores. Adding to the menagerie are freshman Becca Davis and sophomore Carrie Dillsaver who notched their first career assists.
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.
You Knew it Would Happen: Well it took three-plus years and her fifth career goal to do it, but Jenni Brashear has finally hit a goal that didn’t mean much, and she did it twice! The Little Rock, Ark., native had a flare for the dramatic in that the first four goals of her career were either game winners or game-tying, but her two scores against Southern only padded Arkansas’ lead breaking her run of significant scores at four.
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.
A Scoring Threat: Like her teammate Katie Hamilton it took freshman Sarah Gwisdala a few games to get into the scoring mode, but last weekend she was on fire netting four goals against Grambling and Southern to move into a tie for first on Arkansas’ 2004 scoring charts. The Plano, Texas, native put up a pair against Grambling including the game winner, then scored the Lady’Backs’ second and third goals against Southern.
A Freshman Starter: Unlike Arkansas’ recent seasons, you won’t find a lot of freshmen in the lineup, that is except for Sarah Gwisdala. Starting game one, Gwisdala came off the bench the next two contests, but ever since the Oklahoma game on Sunday, Sept. 5, she has been a fixture for the Lady Razorbacks. Able to play nearly every position on the field, Gwisdala has seen action at outside defender, outside midfield and forward this season making her a multi-faceted threat.
The Southeastern Conference Lineup: It is a busy week for Southeastern Conference schools as the conference schedule begins. All 12 SEC members face each other with Arkansas and LSU hosting Kentucky and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State welcoming Tennessee and Georgia and Florida and South Carolina traveling to Auburn and Alabama.
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.
Team Captain: For the second straight season junior Andrea Sparks has been named captain of the Lady Razorback soccer team. Assisting her in her duties are vice-captains Christina Burger and Megan McCool.
First Goal of the Season: The first goal of the 2004 Lady Razorback soccer season was scored by none other than . . . . Allison Harris. A sophomore defender from Snellville, Ga., Harris connected on a direct free kick from 35 yards to tie the game with Southeast Missouri at one midway through the first half. The goal was the first of Harris’ career and her second points after assisting on one score as a freshman.
Offensive and Defensive: While Allison Harris may be leading the Lady Razorbacks in scoring during the 2004 season, no one is going to confuse her as Arkansas’ main offensive weapon. Harris is too strong as a member of the Lady Razorbacks’ defensive four to get that honor, but any offense she can provide throughout the 2004 season is a bonus for the Lady Razorbacks.
First Goal: Sophomore Katie Stauffer became the second Lady Razorback to score the first goal of her career in 2004 when she netted the game-tying score against Oklahoma. Playing the ball off a free kick from Allison Harris, Stauffer kept the ball low from about three yards and put the Lady Razorbacks in position to win.
New Coach: On December 16, 2003, the Lady Razorbacks hired Gordon Henderson as the sixth coach in University of Arkansas women’s soccer history. A native of Scotland, Henderson is the second non-American head coach in the program’s history and has a history of building programs both at North Dakota State and Idaho State. A believer in fitness and quality, Henderson has already had his team running more and working on the little things that make teams go from good to great.
What Henderson Inherits: Asked to turn the fortunes of the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer program, Henderson inherits a team that went 7-10-2 and capped off the season with its best record since 1996. He has a solid core of freshmen and sophomores and must evaluate the 19 returning players when spring workouts begin.
Beating Tulsa: It was a long time coming, but Arkansas’ victory over the University of Tulsa was the first time since 1994 that a Lady Razorback squad has defeated the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa had won seven of the past eight contests against Arkansas with the lone non-victory, a 3-3 tie in 1996.