TULSA, Okla. - It's no surprise as the Southland Conference enters its first week of conference that several institutions and student-athletes are among the best in the nation, and the Oral Roberts women are well represented.
The Golden Eagles (6-3-2) begin their conference schedule on Sunday afternoon when they visit the preseason favorite, Stephen F. Austin (7-3).
Entering the weekend, the Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 50 in team statistical categories in the NCAA, including 15th in shutout percentage (.636), 17th in save percentage (.877) and 38th in goals-against average (.683). The teams save percentage and goals-against average is also tops in the conference.
Sophomore keeper Helen Erb highlights the Golden Eagles in the individual top 100 rankings, coming in ranked 10th in the save percentage at an incredible .902. The Tulsa native is ranked 23rd in goals-against average (.587) and 38th in total saves with 55. Her play between the posts has led her to four consecutive goalkeeper of the week honors.
Even though her biggest highlight of the season was a game winning goal at Big 12 member Oklahoma, Megan Giles is among the nation's best at setting up teammates, as she is ranked 33rd with five assists and 66th in assists per game.
The game winner against Oklahoma was one of two this season for Giles, while teammate Mary-Kate Halsmer has recorded a pair as well, ranking both players in 69th in the nation.
The Golden Eagles opponent in their inaugural conference contest, the Ladyjacks of Stephen F. Austin, opens their conference schedule tonight against Southeastern Louisiana. The Ladyjacks are coming of a tough loss on Tuesday evening in Waco, Texas, getting blown out by Baylor, 5-0.
Led by sophomore Chelsea Raymond with six goals, the Ladyjacks enter the weekend with just two more goals than the Golden Eagles this season with 21.
However, the contest in Nacogdoches, Texas, on Sunday could end up becoming a defensive battle between the play of the ORU defense anchored by Lauren Parks, Allison Hall and the young keeper Erb, combined with an outstanding keeper, junior Lacey Lee, on the opposite end.
Erb and Lee are either one or two in the conference in three separate categories, including save percentage, shutouts and shutouts per game. Erb is at the top in total saves (55) and saves per game (5.50).
The Golden Eagles led the all-time series between the two programs, 4-3, despite falling to the Ladyjacks when they met last season, 4-0.