ARK-VT soccer 11/19/21

Junior forward Anna Podojil prepares to kick the ball during Friday's match against Virginia Tech. Podojil recorded a goal in the 3-0 second-round victory.

The second-seeded Arkansas soccer team shut out the Virginia Tech Hokies 3-0 Friday evening at Razorback Field to advance to its second consecutive NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

For the second time in the tournament, the Razorbacks came out firing and scored a goal before the five-minute mark of the first half. Junior forward Anna Podojil received a through ball from sophomore midfielder Emilee Hauser in the fourth minute and ripped it into the top right corner of the net on her first touch, giving the Hogs an early 1-0 lead.

“We just focused on exploiting their backline,” Podojil said in the postgame press conference. “We knew there was a lot of space in behind (the defense) and we knew we could take advantage with our pace.”

The Razorbacks continued to hammer the Hokies with their trademark pressure. Virginia Tech was pushed to its limits, allowing 14 Arkansas shots in the first half, but managed to not break and kept the deficit at one going into halftime.

Arkansas’ defense was in exceptional form in the first half, forcing multiple turnovers and immediately turning them into counter-attack opportunities. Arkansas only allowed one shot in the first half.

Senior defender Bryana Hunter went down late in the first half with an apparent leg injury and was helped off the field by the medical staff. Fortunately for the Hogs’ championship hopes, Hunter returned and was able to start the second half.

In the second half, the Razorbacks quickly expanded their lead. In the 52nd minute, senior forward Parker Goins sent a corner kick soaring to the back post and junior defender Reagan Swindall headed the ball into the net.

“In the first half, my corners were a little high,” Goins said. “I knew when I got that corner I needed to put it in the 6-yard box and Swindall, that’s what she’s best at, she just put it right in the corner.”

Goins found herself with the ball and open grass in front of her in the 55th minute, and outran the trailing Hokie defenders to chip it up and over the Virginia Tech goalkeeper and give the Hogs a 3-0 lead.

After the third goal, the Razorbacks maintained their pressure in the middle third, but began to sit back and play more defensively. That allowed more shots for the Hokies, but they found very few quality ones. The Hogs held Virginia Tech off the board and took the match 3-0.

Arkansas outshot the Hokies 23-8 in the game. The Razorbacks had 11 shots on goal, while five of Virginia Tech’s shots reached senior goalkeeper Hannah Warner.

A player to watch moving forward is sophomore forward Kiley Dulaney. She did not score in the second-round matchup, but she was a problem for the Hokie defense. Her speed with the ball was lethal off the first touch and wreaked havoc for backlines.

“She was unbelievable tonight,” Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said. “She was everywhere in the first half. (Virginia Tech) had a little trouble with our pace up front, I thought that was an issue for them. Kiley was no exception. She’s playing at a pretty elite level right now.”

Arkansas will host Notre Dame at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The winner will move on to the Elite Eight and take on top-seeded Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey. The match will be streamed on the SEC Network+.

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