BATON ROUGE – In the wake of an unbeaten 2-0-1 start to Southeastern Conference play, the SEC-leading LSU Tigers will put their streak on the line Friday night when they make the trip to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the red-hot Arkansas Razorbacks in a crucial conference clash that is set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT at Razorback Field.
The Tigers (6-3-2, 2-0-1 SEC) are the only unbeaten side in league play through three conference matches as they sit alone atop the SEC table with seven points for their efforts.
LSU heads into the weekend riding a four-game unbeaten streak going back to its 1-0 shutout at Rice on Sept. 15 to finish the non-conference season. They also kicked off SEC play with a 2-1 overtime win at Vanderbilt on Sept. 21 before playing Tennessee to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 27 and claiming a 3-2 double overtime win over Mississippi State on Sunday in a pair of home matches.
The Razorbacks (8-3, 1-2) have been nearly unbeatable on their home field this season while posting a 5-1 mark at Razorback Field, dropping their only match with a 2-1 defeat to Ole Miss in their conference opener on Sept. 20. They are coming off a split road weekend against two nationally-ranked opponents after shutting out No. 14 Kentucky, 3-0, on Sept. 27 and falling to No. 20 South Carolina, 1-0, on Sunday.
Arkansas certainly has its eye on NCAA Tournament qualification for the first time in recent years as the Razorbacks are ranked No. 21 in the NCAA’s most recent Ratings Percentage Index released on Monday. The RPI is the primary ratings system used by the NCAA to select teams for at-large qualification for postseason play.
The Tigers enter Friday’s fixture with a nine-game winning streak in their series with Arkansas and a five-game winning streak in matches played at Razorback Field dating back to the 2004 regular season.
“Arkansas is having an excellent season this year, and will be playing with a lot of confidence at home on a Friday night in SEC play,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “All across this league, the home environments we get to experience on Friday nights are some of the best in college soccer. We expect that same type of challenge going back on the road this weekend to face a good Arkansas team.”
LSU’s Emma Fletcher is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week on the strength of her performance in leading the Tigers to an unbeaten weekend in Baton Rouge against Tennessee and Mississippi State a week ago.
Fletcher scored her first career goal with the Tigers on a 25-yard free kick to open the scoring in the 31st minute as the Tigers played Tennessee to a 1-1 draw last Friday night. She then provided the primary assist to the debut goal by fellow freshman Megan Lee in the 103rd minute of double overtime to help lead LSU to a 3-2 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday.
While Fletcher has scored just the one goal this season, she leads the team and is tied for the No. 3 spot on the SEC’s scoring charts with six assists during her freshman season. She is just two assists shy of matching an LSU freshman record of eight assists that is currently held by now senior defender Addie Eggleston, who served up eight assists during her freshman season in 2010.
The Tigers have featured a diverse attack throughout the season as 11 different goal scorers have scored the team’s 18 goals through 11 matches this season. A different Tiger has also scored each of LSU’s six goals in a three-game unbeaten run to open SEC play, including Fletcher, senior Nina Anderson, sophomores Heather Magee and Fernanda Pina, and freshmen Summer Clarke and Megan Lee.
The Razorbacks are led by sophomore striker Ashleigh Ellenwood, who is the team’s top scorer with five goals and 13 points on the year. Midfielders Evan Palmer and Rachel Riggs follow with three goals apiece.
LSU supporters with a Geaux Zone subscription will be able to watch the Tigers and Razorbacks in action on Friday night as Arkansas will provide access to its RazorVision coverage as the official websites of both schools are powered by NeuLion.
Fans can also receive live updates through the team’s social media pages by liking LSU Soccer on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lsusoccer and by following @LSUSoccer on Twitter and Instagram.
After facing the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday night, the Tigers will head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Sunday afternoon as they will face the Alabama Crimson Tide for a game that is set to kick off at 1 p.m. CT at the Alabama Soccer Complex. They return home next weekend to play host to the Missouri Tigers on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Stadium.