GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Arkansas' soccer team faced another tough test on Sunday and No. 24 Florida rode a big first half to a 4-0 Southeastern Conference victory.
The game was the fourth in the last seven for the Razorbacks against ranked teams, including contests against No. 1 Florida State, No. 22 Ole Miss and No. 18 Kentucky. In addition, on Friday, Arkansas won at Tennessee, which is No. 18 in the NCAA RPI rankings, and last Sunday's 1-1 double-overtime tie came against defending SEC champion South Carolina.
In the first 45 minutes, Florida attempted six shots and scored on three of those with five on goal. Arkansas had no shot attempts.
"We put extraordinary mental and physical effort and energy into the game on Friday," head coach Colby Hale says. "We came out a touch flat and we paid for it. Florida is an excellent team. They move the ball and we got caught chasing it."
Florida was patient on offense and keeper Sam Wolf made saves in the sixth and 12th minutes before UF struck in the 17th minute on Maggie Rodgers' pass to Annie Speese at the top of the 18. Speese moved to her left, reversed field and slid a low shot from 15 yards out just inside the right post for a 1-0 Gator lead.
The Gators made it 2-0 in the 29th minute when Holly King scored from the right edge of the six off a free kick from near midfield. Christen Westphal landed the free kick inside the six and King scored from four yards out.
Arkansas had a few threats. In the seventh minute, Jeriann Okoro and Ashleigh Ellenwood combined to get a ball into the box for Allie Chandler, who scored in Friday's win at Tennessee, but Chandler couldn't get there in time.
In the 25th minute, Yvonne DesJarlais passed ahead to Okoro, who dribbled into the right corner and crossed inside to DesJarlais, but the ball was a bit too high and Florida cleared.
Florida padded its lead at 36:24 when Annie Bobbitt passed into the box to McKenzie Barney, who got by the defense. Barney had a one-on-one with Wolf from inside the six and got her shot into the left corner of the net for a 3-0 lead.
"We fixed some things for the second half and put in the energy," Hale said. "It was 45 minutes for us to play a quality team and get better. The effort we put in for the second half was good. We gave up a penalty with 30 seconds left, but for 44-and-a-half minutes, we created some chances. We could have and should have scored some goals. It's a growing process. I think we grew up and got better this weekend."
Arkansas generated offense early in the second half and Okoro got off the first shot for the Razorbacks, but it sailed over the goal from about 25 yards away.
Florida almost added to its lead in the 62nd minute with a shot midway through the box, but the shot was partially blocked by Margaret Power and covered at the right post by Wolf.
In the 78th minute, Ashleigh Ellenwood split a pair of defenders and fired shot from 25 yards away, but it hooked left of the post.
A minute later, Florida pushed it the other way and Wolf made a save on a shot from 10 yards away.
Arkansas had a chance to get on the board in the final 10 minutes with a foul and a free kick, and two corners, all from the left side. Florida punched out the second corner and cleared to turn back the attack.
On an accidental handball against Arkansas in the final minute, Florida was awarded a penalty kick and Tatiana Perez scored for the Gators into the right corner for the final margin.
For the game, Florida finished with 15 shots and eight shots on goal. Arkansas had five shots.
Florida improved to 8-3-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC while Arkansas fell to 5-6-1 overall and 2-3-1 in the league.