Thursday night, Arkansas soccer returned home to Fayetteville to battle with Ole Miss. The Rebels entered the match undefeated (one win, two draws) in three SEC contests this season, but they would not end the match that way. The Razorbacks blanked their rivals from Oxford, Mississippi by a score of 3-0.
In its eighth and final game in September, the Razorbacks conceded its first goal all month. It was all South Carolina needed to hand the Razorbacks their first loss in SEC play this past Sunday, and the Hogs fell from number 13 in the rankings to number 15.
“You could argue Ole Miss is one of the best attacking teams in the conference,” Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said.
The first half began similarly to last Thursday’s duel with Vanderbilt. There was no shortage of offensive chances for the Hogs, but this time it did not take long for the home team to find the back of the net.
In the 18th minute, senior midfielder Tori Cannata found herself with space on the left side of the penalty area and blasted a shot off of an Ole Miss defender and past goalkeeper Ashley Orkus.
Arkansas continued to dominate possession during the remainder of the half. In the 34th minute, fatigue caught up to the Rebel defenders as a sluggish foul in the box presented the Hogs with a penalty kick.
Junior defender Haley VanFossen got the nod from Coach Hale, and she sent the ball screaming into the upper 90 for her first tally of the season.
VanFossen said she thought to herself as approached the penalty spot “just don’t kick it over the goal.”
After 45 minutes, the Razorbacks led on the scoreboard only by two, but by bigger margins everywhere else. Ole Miss was outshot by 13, did not register a shot on target or win a corner kick in the first half.
“We could have scored a few more (in the first half),” Hale said. “We probably should have put them away.”
Possession in the second half was far less lopsided than it was in the first, and it showed on the stat sheet. The Razorbacks committed 10 fouls in the last 45 minutes, including two yellow cards, and surrendered 10 shot attempts.
Despite more attacking time, the Rebels were still unable to break through on the scoreboard. Ultimately, they only forced Arkansas’ senior goalkeeper Katie Lund to make one save.
The Hogs added a third goal on a counterattack in the final minute off the foot of junior forward Parker Goins, the hero from the win against Vanderbilt.
VanFossen thinks the team’s response to last Sunday’s loss showed a lot of character, something the team is very good at, and that she is very proud of, she said.
“We lost our urgency a little bit (in the second half), but we closed them out,” Hale said. “It was good, we won 3-0, we’ll take it.”
The Razorbacks’ next match is Thursday, Oct. 10th, in Baton Rouge against the winless (three losses, one draw) LSU Tigers. Hale asserted that nothing about their preparation will change, simply because the opposition has yet to win an SEC game, he said.
The match will kick off at 6 pm and will be broadcast live on the SEC Network, which is available through the ESPN app and WatchESPN.com.