ARK soccer 11/26/21

Arkansas junior forward Anna Podojil prepares to kick the ball Friday during the Hogs’ Elite Eight loss at Rutgers. The Razorbacks finished the season at 19-4-1, their best record in program history.

The second-seeded Razorback soccer team fell in penalty kicks Friday to the first-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament in Piscataway, New Jersey.

In typical Arkansas Soccer fashion, the scoring started early, only this time, the opponent was the first on the board. Rutgers’ Riley Tiernan scored in the second minute to take a 1-0 lead.

The Razorbacks did not let the early disadvantage steer them from their usual gameplan of intense pressure. It paid off in the seventh minute as senior midfielder Taylor Malham sent a pass to junior forward Anna Podojil, who sent the ball into the net and evened the score at 1-1.

Arkansas began to smell blood in the water and turned up the aggression, putting another score on the board. In the 14th minute, a corner kick from senior forward Parker Goins found junior defender Reagan Swindall just outside the 6-yard and she sent the ball off her head and into the back of the net to take a 2-1 lead.

Rutgers managed to even  the momentum and the score after Amirah Ali outran the Arkansas defense and chipped the ball up and over senior goalkeeper Hannah Warner with three minutes before halftime.

Arkansas controlled the first 20 minutes of the second half, and Rutgers seemed confused by the Razorback defense in the middle third and fatigued on its own backline. The Hogs found multiple scoring opportunities, but could not knock a go-ahead goal in.

As Rutgers began to figure out the Arkansas defense and get its forwards more involved, the Scarlet Knights were able to put the Arkansas backline under duress. Ali and Tiernan had multiple scoring opportunities for Rutgers in the final minutes of the second half, but they could not take the lead before the end of regulation.

The Scarlet Knights continued their momentum and attack into the first overtime period. Rutgers had two chances to win the match in that period, but sent both wide of the net.

The second overtime period was more evenly matched, and Arkansas found a few quality chances. Neither team could find the back of the net and the game went to penalty kicks.

Rutgers keeper Meagan McClelland saved the first shot of penalty kicks from Podojil. Rutgers' first shot made it past Warner. The next round consisted of makes from both sides, including Arkansas senior forward Kaelee Van Gundy, who played zero minutes in the match.

Senior defender Haley Van Fossen hit the post for Arkansas in the third round, while Rutgers converted. Goins converted in the fourth round, but Tiernan put the Razorbacks and their championship hopes away with the fourth Rutgers goal.

The Hogs’ Elite Eight finish is the best in Arkansas program history. The Razorbacks finished the season with a record of 19-4-1.

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