FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ soccer team is right in the middle of the race for a spot in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and the Razorbacks have two big games this week on the road at Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Arkansas plays against Kentucky in Lexington on Friday at 6 p.m. and against Vanderbilt in Nashville on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Razorbacks are 4-7-0 overall, but 2-2-0 in the SEC. That league mark is good for third in the SEC Western Division and a tie for fourth overall. The top eight teams advance to the SEC Tournament.
Kentucky is 9-3-0 overall and 2-2-0 in the league. The Wildcats split last week, winning at South Carolina and losing at Florida. UK leads the all-time series 10-4-2, including a 7-0-1 advantage in Lexington. The tie came on Arkansas’ last trip to UK, a 0-0, double-overtime finish in 2009, but Kentucky is 4-0-0 at home this season.
"On any given day in the SEC, you can be beaten or you can beat someone," head coach Erin Aubry says. "Kentucky is always an exciting place to play. They have a lot of youth and they are coming off a big, strong win against South Carolina."
Vanderbilt enters the weekend 6-6-0 overall and 0-4-0 in conference play. The Commodores are 4-2-0 at home this season. Vanderbilt leads the series 14-8-1 with a 7-3-0 lead in Nashville, but Arkansas claimed a 2-0 victory in the last road meeting in 2009.
Arkansas enters the week third in the league in saves with 5.73 per game. Individually, Allie Chandler is fourth in shots (4.0) and Kailey Anders seventh (3.55). Chandler is first in shots per game and Anders fifth. Goal keeper Emily Lillard is first in saves (62) and second with 5.64 saves per game. Lillard had 15 saves last week in games against Georgia and No. 10 Tennessee.
Anders leads the team with three goals, two assists, eight points, two game-winning goals, 18 shots on goal and a .462 shots on goal percentage. Beth Stratton is second with two goals and four points, and third with 23 shots. Chandler is tied for third with one goal, but first with 44 shots, and second with 17 shots on goal and a .386 shots on goal percentage.
In addition to battling the SEC, Arkansas is also battling injuries. Starting midfielder Beth Stratton and starting defender Courtney Williams returned last weekend after missing two and three games, respectively. In addition, forward Allie Tripp suffered an injury against Ole Miss and defender Sam Wolf against Tennessee.
"We’ve had some key players who have had to take a break," Aubry says. "Fortunately only one has been serious, but it has been a little disruptive. We’ve had some kids step up so I’m happy for them."