TULSA, Okla. – On a hot and muggy night in Tulsa, Okla., sophomore Alison Harter tallied five points and the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team ignored the elements to create some heat of their own as they opened the 2005 regular season with a 5-1 win over the University of Tulsa on Friday night.
The win improves the Lady Razorbacks to 1-0-0 on the season while Tulsa falls to 0-1-0. Arkansas’ victory is the first time since 2001 that the Lady Razorbacks opened the season with a win and the first time since 1998 that they won a road opener.
“I am ecstatic with the win tonight,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “But I am also not looking at the rest of the season with rose colored glasses. From a historical standpoint, this is tremendous, to score five goals against Tulsa which is something we have never done before. We will certainly celebrate the win tonight, but know that we have a very difficult opponent in Oklahoma on Sunday. From a coaching standpoint I am pleased with our possession and the opportunities that we created.”
Similar to the 2004 match between the two schools, the Lady Razorbacks got on the scoreboard early when Megan McCool connected on an eight-yard shot just 3:07 into the contest. While the 2005 score was not quite as quick as it was in 2004, 1:19, it was scored by McCool in both instances as the Oklahoma native stepped up her game. Junior Christina Burger was awarded the assist on the score as she controlled the ball just outside the Tulsa goalkeeper’s box before sending a crisp pass to the center of field where McCool buried a shot into the right side of the net.
Un-credited with an assist, but every bit as valuable was the steal by freshman Abbey Wilburn on the right side of the field. Wilburn’s control of the ball allowed her to give Burger time to evaluate her situation and for the Lady Razorbacks to advance on the Tulsa goal.
The Lady Razorbacks took a two goal lead in the 19th minute when Burger made a spectacular effort up the center of the field with the ball, dribbling around two Tulsa defenders as she drifted to the left side of the goal. Bypassing the final defender 10-yards from the goal, Burger took a shot from the left corner of the goalkeeper’s box and sent a shot to the right side of the goal around a diving Tulsa goalkeeper.
Even with the weather draining the energy from both squads, the Lady Razorbacks were able to keep up their intensity in the second period and even though they were not able to control the tempo quite as much, still kept constant pressure on the Tulsa defense. Midway through the period, Arkansas was on the board again when Burger somehow broke through a Tulsa double team and dribbled down the right side unencumbered. She then sent a scorching centering pass to Harter at the top of the six-yard box and after a single touch, Harter deposited a shot into the back of the net around a helpless Tulsa goalkeeper for Arkansas’ third score.
Harter was at it again just nine minutes later when she scored her second goal of the game. Controlling the ball at the center circle, Wilburn sent a through ball that glided between a pair of Tulsa defenders and allowed Harter to race past the duo at full speed. A shot by Harter ricocheted off the legs of the Tulsa goalkeeper, which allowed Harter to gather up the loose ball and take a seven-yard shot into an open net.
Tulsa scored their lone goal with 15 minutes remaining when a 25-yard shot from the left side of the goal sailed over the Arkansas defense and outstretched hand of goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver and into the net.
The Lady Razorbacks came right back with their fifth score when junior Katie Hamilton took a feed from Harter who received a throw in from Whitney Allison and stuck a long shot into the back of the net at 81:00.
For the Lady Razorbacks, their victory over Tulsa is the sixth in a rivalry that has spanned 19 years and is the first time in that time that Arkansas won in back-to-back seasons. The five Lady Razorback goals break an Arkansas record for most scores against the Golden Hurricane in a single game eclipsing the 1996 squad’s 3-3 tie and 1991’s 4-3 loss. In fact, the offensive output is the first time since 2000 that the Lady Razorbacks scored more than a single goal against Tulsa.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Norman, Okla., to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.