The Arkansas Razorback soccer team at the season opener Sept. 19 in Fayetteville. // Courtesy of Razorback Athletics

The Arkansas Razorbacks got off to a victorious start with a 2-0 win against the LSU Tigers Saturday afternoon. The Hogs came into the game as the favorite after being picked to finish in the No. 1 spot in the preseason coaches’ poll. It is the first time Arkansas has been chosen to win the conference in the preseason poll dating back to 1999.

In a postgame Zoom conference, Arkansas head coach Colby Hale spoke highly of his team’s ability to find a way to win. Hale was awarded the SEC coach of the year honors in 2019.

“Winning in the SEC is hard,” Hale said. “I thought we gutted out the win.”

The ability to pull off conference victories is now more critical than ever. The Hogs only have seven games remaining, all of which are against SEC opponents.

Sophomore defender Reagan Swindall put the home team ahead in the 35th minute after guiding home a free-kick by senior defender Haley VanFossen from near midfield. Swindall now has 4 goals in her early college career.

Senior forward Parker Goins, a First Team All-SEC selection in 2019, doubled the Hogs’ advantage in the 56th minute when she blasted a cross into the roof of the net from right around the penalty spot.

While the Hogs were in control for the majority of the game, the Tigers did not make the most of their scarce opportunities. LSU struck the post twice throughout the game, including once on a penalty kick from redshirt junior forward Tinaya Alexander in the 86th minute.

Despite the two-goal win, Hale noted that his team still had a lot to work on to get where they want to be by the end of the shortened season. When asked about the 20-11 shot differential in favor of the Hogs, Hale showed no signs of complacency and said that he’d like it to be even larger.

“My expectations have been described as unrealistic which is probably fair,” Hale said, “I thought we had some good chances but we’ll need to get cleaner in the final third for sure.”

The Razorbacks will have a week to fine-tune their squad before they take on the University of Kentucky in Lexington Sunday, Sept 27 at 5 p.m. It will be the second game of the season for both teams. The Wildcats opened their season with a 3-2 loss against Vanderbilt.

The Hogs will be the heavy favorite against a Kentucky squad that finished with a 1-8-1 conference record in 2019. The game will be streamed on SECN+.

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