Soccer vs UNC

Senior defender Bryana Hunter battles with a North Carolina player in Sunday's match. The Tar Heels and Razorbacks played a scoreless regulation period, only for North Carolina to come out of overtime with a 1-0 victory.

The Razorback soccer team lost 1-0 in overtime to No. 3 North Carolina in its last game of the Nike Classic. The Hogs have started the season 0-2 for the first time since 2003.

The match began with both teams pressuring the ball in an attempt to gain control of the tempo. Both teams got only one shot in the first 20 minutes, because of a similar tactical setup on each side.

Arkansas and North Carolina had the same starting 3-4-3 formation, and both focused on putting immediate pressure on the ball. In the first half, each midfielder ran with intensity to create a turnover and immediately feed their sprinting wingbacks, who took advantage of the space left by the opposing team’s attack-minded defense.

The deadlock was nearly broken in the 24th minute when Arkansas senior forward Parker Goins created a turnover at midfield, and the ball rolled to the feet of junior forward Anna Podojil. Podojil drove into the heart of the North Carolina midfield to release senior midfielder Taylor Malham with a through ball down the left wing. Malham crossed the ball into the swinging left foot of junior midfielder Jessica De Filippo, who struck the ball from the penalty spot, only to have it saved by North Carolina senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey.

The second half began with a determined North Carolina team dominating possession and attempting four shots in the first six minutes against a pinned-back Razorback defense. The Hogs looked tired and unfocused against a Tar Heel team that used 39 substitutions and 23 players. This rotation allowed the Tar Heels to attack and wear down the Hogs consistently.

Arkansas senior goalkeeper Hannah Warner stepped up for the second game in a row, finishing with six saves and a match-defining moment in the 59th minute. A darting run from North Carolina freshman midfielder Emily Colton saw her reach the penalty spot and miss her shot to the right of the post because of the pressure Warner created by closing the gap.

In the 66th minute, Arkansas sophomore forward Ava Tankersley created a turnover in the Tar Heel defense, only to take an early shot outside the box with nobody between her and the North Carolina goalie.

The Razorbacks made their deadliest attack on goal in the 83rd minute off a curling ball in from a corner kick by Goins that nearly snuck across the line. Instead, the ball was cleared off the line leaving the Hogs with another seven minutes to stave off the attacking Tar Heels.

The match remained 0-0 after 90 minutes, forcing a golden-goal overtime period.

It took North Carolina sophomore forward Sam Meza seven minutes to finish off the game with a curling shot from the right corner of the penalty box. This shot flew between senior defender Haley VanFossen and junior midfielder Bea Franklin on its way past Warner into the left side netting of the goal.

Arkansas finished the match with six shots to North Carolina’s 21, and the Hogs tallied only two corners to the Tar Heels’ nine.

Despite the difficult defeats suffered at this year’s Nike Classic, head coach Colby Hale said he saw an improvement over the previous game.

“First, credit to UNC,” said Hale in a press conference. “Sunday on the road at UNC may be one of the toughest tests in college sports. Losing sucks, don’t get me wrong. We are never satisfied with losing. That being said, this weekend will pay dividends. We got better, and we’ll use this as a barometer as to where we need to grow to reach our ultimate goal of going to a Final Four.”

The Hogs will look to bounce back against No. 15 BYU in their home opener at 7 p.m. Monday, August 30th. The match will be available to stream on the SEC Network Plus, available on the ESPN app with a TV login.

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