With a couple of big-time victories under its belt, the Arkansas soccer team finds itself sitting at 5-1-0 on the season, securing a No. 17 national ranking.
The Razorbacks are one of four teams with a national ranking in the Southeastern Conference. Prior to the team’s loss to George Washington on Sept. 4, the Hogs were also the only one of those four who were still undefeated and untied in their matches.
The highlight of the Arkansas soccer season so far this year is the shocking victory the team grabbed at home against then-No. 2 Duke Blue Devils on Aug. 26. The win was the first victory against a top-10 ranked opponent for the Hogs in program history, as well as the highest ranked team to ever visit Fayetteville.
Goals were abundant in the team’s big win. Its offensive showcase began with a 20th minute goal from senior Lindsey Mayo, who was assisted by fellow seniors Claire Kelley and Alexandra Fischer.
In the second half, freshman midfielder Stefani Doyle continued to stay hot on offense with her fourth goal in three matches coming in the 49th minute of the game. Giving up a lone goal in the 79th minute to the Blue Devils, the Arkansas defense stood its ground and pulled out the biggest upset in program history.
“We knew coming in how special some of Duke’s players were but they hadn’t really been through anything yet,” head coach Colby Hale said after the Duke game. “They’d been cruising. We had been through some stuff and felt prepared to handle whatever the match brought. Our kids’ fight was fantastic. They executed the gameplan to perfection. What a great win.”
Arkansas shocked Duke in front of a record crowd of just over 3,000 fans, topping the previous record set in 2015 by 29 percent when the team brought Texas Christian University to town. The game against Duke made it the third year in a row that Arkansas has broken its single game attendance record.
After the 3-0 start, the Hogs continued their three-game homestand against the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where they shut out the Kangaroos 2-0 at Razorback Field on Aug. 29. Despite the win against Duke, It wasn’t until after the win against UMKC that the team was propelled into the national spotlight, with its highest ranking since September 2014 at No. 17.
“Being ranked is a great honor and something this group has earned based on their results,” Hale said in a press release. “As most every coach will tell you, what people think of us four weeks in isn’t that important to us. We like our group and we are preparing for a very good UNI team on Thursday.”
VS Northern Iowa
The Razorbacks continued their perfection, routing Northern Iowa 7-1 in the last game of the team’s home stretch Sept. 1. The win lifted the team to 5-0-0 for the second time in Hale’s tenure at the UofA.
The last time the Razorback soccer team scored seven goals in a contest was in 2008 when they dominated Nicholls State in the Razorback Invitational. The overall record for the most goals in program history is 11, which came in 2004 in a victory over Southern University.
The young talent of the Hogs was on display in their win over UNI. Five of the team’s seven goals came at the hands of either freshmen or sophomores. The team showed its well-roundedness in the match with no goals scored by freshman phenom Stefani Doyle, who has secured more than one SEC or national accolade up to this point in her short collegiate career.
Freshman Kayla McKeon is tied with Doyle for the most goals on the team with four after her two-goal contribution in the match. Senior goalkeeper Cameron Carter continued her strong senior campaign, averaging barely one goal allowed per game.
AT George Washington
The team did not taste defeat until earlier this week when the Hogs travelled to the nation’s capital to take on GWU and lose 1-0 in the two programs’ first ever matchup Sept. 4.
In a defensive-minded game, the Colonials suppressed the Razorback offense, overcoming a 10-3 shot advantage and 4-3 corner advantage for the match.
The Hogs will look to bounce back Sept. 9 against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, when they travel to Starkville, Mississippi, in a SEC bout. Arkansas holds a 18-3-0 edge all-time over the Bulldogs, and a 3-1 advantage under coach Hale.