Completes Spring Season with 1-1 Tie
- The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team completed its
spring season over the weekend by playing a tough University of Missouri
squad to a 1-1 tie in Columbia, Mo.
Falling behind 1-0 in the 24th minute, Arkansas
came right back with a goal from departing senior Julie Williford just
two minutes later. A Lady Razorback counter attack led to a long through
ball that Williford was able to chip over a defender. She then hit a towering
shot that sailed over the goalkeeper and into the goal to net the equalizer.
"I thought that this was a well deserved 1-1
tie," Arkansas head soccer coach Gordon Henderson said. "They had more
possession, but I thought that the quality scoring chances were about
even. At this point I am more concerned about the style of play and not
with the numbers."
Playing an experienced Missouri team to end
the spring season was just what Henderson wanted to do. The Tigers were
12-11-1 overall, but made a fabulous late season run when they advanced
to the Big XII Tournament Championship game and to the second round of
the NCAA Championships.
"Missouri is a good side with lots of scoring
potential," Henderson said. "Athletically and technically they had more
speed, and we had some breakdowns, but you expect that against the good
Arkansas' ability to adapt to Henderson's
style of play served them well against Missouri as it allowed the longer
shots to pepper the goal, but kept Missouri from mounting much offense
inside the 18-yard box. Missouri did earn a couple of excellent scoring
chances early in the contest, but Arkansas goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver
made a couple diving saves to keep the Tigers in their den.
"There was a huge difference between the Oklahoma
State game a couple weeks ago and this one," Henderson said. "The loss
to OSU was very frustrating to the players. They played an immature game
that day and I think that they got too excited and forgot what they had
learned. We had our best two weeks of training since then and I can say
that our players are fitter, faster and stronger than when I arrived.
They understand the principles of the system and now we need to work on
the little nuances."
The hard work has paid off for nearly every
Lady Razorback soccer player and some took to the system quicker than
others. That was certainly the case in the midfield where the likes of
sophomore Megan McCool and freshman Christina Burger excelled the entire
"Assistant coach Steve Oliver told me that
Megan and Christina could be one of the best center midfield combinations
in the Southeastern Conference," Henderson recalled. "Our focus the entire
spring has been on the team and developing a sense of unity. I believe
that the team has responded incredibly well and that there is a different
feeling among the players."
The Lady Razorbacks get the rest of the spring
to focus on academics as they prepare for finals. The next time Arkansas
returns to the pitch as a team is early August when they start two-a-days
in preparation for the 2004 season.