The Razorback soccer team dropped its Southeastern Conference opener against Mississippi State 2-0 Friday night in Starkville, Mississippi.
The undefeated Bulldogs came in having allowed two goals in eight matches. The Razorbacks had a difficult time creating opportunities throughout the first half. The only shot on goal for the Hogs in the first half was a half-hearted kick by junior forward Ava Tankersley, which went down as a routine save for junior goalkeeper Maddy Anderson.
Both teams' back lines proved stingy until the Bulldogs broke the scoreless tie in the 26th minute. Freshman midfielder Alivia Buxton’s touch pass set up freshman forward Maggie Wadsworth. She got off a clean strike from about 20 yards out and deposited the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net just past the outstretched arms of graduate keeper Grace Barbara.
The Bulldogs threatened to add a second goal in the 32nd minute when graduate defender Gwen Mummert’s header went over the crossbar.
The Razorbacks came out in the second half with more aggression and controlled the time of possession battle after the intermission. Their only realistic chance to equalize was off a corner kick in the 68th minute. Anderson tipped Arkansas sophomore midfielder Greer Maguire’s shot just over the net to preserve the Mississippi State lead.
Bulldog graduate defender Miranda Carrasco made an aggressive tackle, halting Arkansas junior midfielder Ellie Podojil’s aggressive run up the left side of the box to prevent any damage. Trouble was brewing for the Razorbacks in transition. Graduate forward Jojo Ngongo kept the ball alive and played a cross up the right side to catch Wadsworth in stride for her second goal to put the game out of reach in the 81st minute.
Razorback head coach Colby Hale credited the Bulldogs’ effort but placed the blame squarely on himself.
“First credit to Mississippi State,” Hale told Arkansas Athletics. “They outworked us and that doesn’t happen very often. This one is on me. The SEC is a different animal and we weren’t prepared. We will learn from this and get better as this group of women always does. I’m already looking forward to Auburn.”
The Hogs will return home to Razorback Field at 6 p.m. Thursday to take on the Auburn Tigers. The game will air on SEC Network.