Burger strikes twice Arkansas defeats Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior Christina Burger scored a pair of goals for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team with the second one producing the game winner as Arkansas defeats the University of South Carolina, 2-1, at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Friday night

The win improves the Lady Razorbacks to 6-10-0 overall and 3-6-0 in SEC action while South Carolina falls to 5-11-0 overall and 1-8-0 in conference play. More importantly than the record for Arkansas are the three points that it earns for the victory which propels them into the eighth and final spot for the SEC Tournament with two games to play. The Lady Razorback win is also the first time since October of 2000 that Arkansas has posted back-to-back wins in SEC play.

“This was an interesting game,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “We have played so many close games and come out with a loss. South Carolina played better than us for portions of the game, but we came away with the win. By no means was this our best game, but we got the result. In the end our defense played well and we did a good job of limiting their possession and chances inside the penalty area.”

Midway through the opening half, play was suspended for one hour and 15 minutes as lightning and rain moved over the playing surface with the clock stuck at 25:14. While the showers only fell for a few minutes, continuous lightning strikes within six miles of the stadium prevented the teams from retaking the field. The break in the action stopped the momentum that the Lady Razorbacks had begun to build which saw a pair of great opportunities halted by the Gamecock defense.

Coming out of the break in action, South Carolina was flying around the field and put constant pressure on the Lady Razorback defense. As Arkansas dismissed several offensives, the Lady’Backs were able to counter on an errant South Carolina pass with a long clear by Megan Fawley. Fawley’s clear sailed over the Carolina defense allowing Christina Burger to run under the ball and create a one-on-one with Gamecock keeper. Bearing down on Lindsay Thorstenson, Burger was able to nick a shot past the left side of the sprawling keeper and into the goal of the game’s first score with 9:29 left in the half.

Undeterred by the goal, South Carolina came charging back and found themselves with a corner kick just minutes after the Arkansas goal. Sending a cross to the back post, the Gamecocks won the ball cleanly and took a 10 yard shot toward the net, but Arkansas defender Devon Burger was standing on the back post and cleared the shot to preserve the one-goal lead.

The back and forth match continued as the Lady’Backs nearly capitalized on a ball sent into the box from a corner kick clear. Devon Burger hit a high pass into the mixer that her sister Christina camped under but for the second time in the half Thorstenson was able to keep the ball away from Burger to keep the Gamecock deficit at one.

Following halftime, Arkansas looked phenomenal over the opening moments as they controlled the ball for most of the first five minutes of play. In the 51st minute, South Carolina took a page out of the Arkansas book when Erin Sullivan sent a long through ball past everyone on the field. The Lady’Backs attempted to catch the Gamecocks Darcel Mollon in an offside position, but she held her line and sailed past the flat-footed Arkansas defense to create a one-on-one. Hitting a soft shot, Mollen hit the post on the far side of the net which allowed the ball to carom into the goal to tie the score.

Moments later, Carolina would be on the offensive again, but a pair of South Carolina scoring chances were stopped thanks to the play of Arkansas keeper Carrie Dillsaver. On one particular instance, Mollen dribbled past a pair of Arkansas defenders then sent a short pass to Alex Mouton who uncorked a 12-yard rocket toward the short side, but Dillsaver saw the shot coming and was able to knock the shot out of bounds.

The Lady Razorbacks took the lead 2-1 in the 78th minute when Burger connected on her second goal of the game. An Arkansas attack straight up the middle of the field by Katie Hamilton forced a pair of defenders to close in on the junior who sent a quick touch to Burger who worked to her left and took a left-footed shot that snuck past the Carolina keeper. Burger’s second score was the second time this season that she put two shots past an opposing goalkeeper and the third time in her career.

Over the final 10 minutes of play, Arkansas withstood a furious South Carolina attack that saw the ball spend nearly the entire final portion of the game in the Lady Razorback half of the field.

The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Univ. of Florida in a key SEC matchup at 12:30 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.