In 2015, the Arkansas soccer team finished with a 6-11-1 record, an ending to the season that marked the team’s first failure to appear in the NCAA tournament in two years.
The Hogs are looking to get back on track in 2016 as they gear up for the season with a team returning six seniors and a top-25 recruiting class, according to Top Drawer Soccer, one of the most prominent evaluators for amateur soccer players in America.
The 2016 team should be an experienced one, as Arkansas returns with its leading goal scorer, senior Claire Kelley, who put seven shots through the net last year.
The Razorbacks also return with their leading assister – senior defender Erika Miller, who started each of the team’s 18 games last season. Miller will be a part of an experienced defense that will be essential in helping senior goalkeeper Cameron Carter and sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Harris improve upon the Hogs’ defensive output from last season.
The forwards and midfielders for the Hogs should be strong points of the team. Those positions, collectively, will return five players who started more than 10-of-18 games apiece last season.
To go along with that experience are young talents Reece Christopherson and Carly Hoke, who received Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week and All-SEC Freshman Team accolades last season, respectively.
The Razorbacks will welcome two freshmen ranked in the International Management Group Soccer Academy 150, as well as six of nine incoming players that had a three-star rating or higher according to TDS.
Victoria Cannata, the No. 1-ranked high school player in Florida, received a four-star rating from the IMG Academy and a final ranking of No. 67 overall.
Cannata and freshman midfielder Stefani Doyle, who was the No. 63-ranked player in the IMG 150 and fourth-rated player in Texas, have the most probable chance of coming in and making an immediate impact with the Hogs’ already strong offensive presence.
While the Razorbacks will play 10 of their 19 games at Razorback Field this year, they will play five matches against Coaches Poll top-25 teams, and eight teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Arguably the team’s toughest matchups will be at home against the preseason third-ranked Duke Blue Devils on Aug. 26, and the defending SEC champion and preseason seventh-ranked Florida Gators on Sept. 16.
In addition to those two marquee matchups, the Hogs will begin a nine-game stretch against SEC opponents, eight of which qualified for the tournament last season.
The Razorbacks were ranked No. 19 in the nation for average attendance through 10 games last season, with more than 1,200 fans per game. For total attendance, Hog soccer was the 16th-most attended soccer program in the country, attracting more than 12,000 fans to home games.
Before its first game in front of Hog fans, the team will hit the road to start the season, beginning with a trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to face James Madison on Aug. 19.