Soccer

Senior Kayla McKeon during the matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Nov. 6 in Starkville, Mississippi. With a 2-1 win over the Bulldogs, the Hogs secured their second straight regular-season SEC title.

The Razorback soccer team downed the Mississippi State Bulldogs 2-1 in Starkville, Mississippi, Friday night. The Hogs finished the shortened season with a 7-1-0 record, after a lone loss at home against South Carolina.

Arkansas entered the match needing a win to secure a second-consecutive regular-season Southeastern Conference title. However, the team was not even aware of the circumstances, head coach Colby Hale said.

“It was funny, going into pregame they did not even know,” Hale said in a postgame Zoom interview. “The players were asking if we’re playing for a championship tonight.”

The Razorbacks came out firing early and took the lead in the 11th minute with a goal from senior forward Parker Goins.

Goins received a cross from sophomore forward Anna Podojil and held off a defender as she tucked it away from close range. Goins and Podojil had combined for the last three Razorback goals dating back to last week’s win versus Auburn. The duo finished the regular season tied for second in the conference in goals with four each.

Arkansas continued pushing forward early in the opening half and the effort resulted in a second goal in the 20th minute courtesy of freshman forward Ava Tankersley. The first-year attacker screened the Bulldog goalkeeper Maddy Anderson and flicked a corner kick from senior defender Haley VanFossen into the net.

Mississippi State made it a one-score game in the 34th minute with a goal by junior forward Hailey Farrington-Bentil. She settled a cross from junior forward Monigo Karnley and curled the ball into the top-right corner of the net. The strike was her second goal of the season and fifth of her career.

The Hogs went into halftime up by one and came out of the break with an organized gameplan. Arkansas conceded the ball to the Bulldogs more in the second half but was determined to drop the backline and stay in a compact defensive shape.

The plan worked to perfection as the Hogs packed in defensively and did not allow Mississippi State any quality looks at the goal in the last 45 minutes of the match.

Hale said he knew that the opposition was going to throw numbers forward at them in the closing stages of the match but he was pleased with the way his team dealt with the pressure.

“We’re finding out this year that we’re the hated Razorbacks and we’re getting everyone’s best shot,” Hale said, “It wasn’t perfect…but we found a way to win and we won an SEC championship.”

With the victory, Arkansas earned the No. 1 seed and double-bye to the quarterfinals of the postseason SEC Tournament. The Hogs will have 11 days to prepare for their next opponent.

Hale said he was pleased to earn the top-seed and the advantages that come with it.

“We got to stay sharp and this is a good time to get fresh,” Hale said, “I would definitely [rather] be resting than playing all of those games.”

The SEC tournament will take place in Orange Beach, Alabama, and all matches will be televised on SEC Network. Arkansas is scheduled to play its first match Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.

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