FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas' soccer team looks to remain unbeaten when the Razorbacks play at home again on Wednesday, entertaining Missouri State at 7 p.m. at Razorback Field.
Arkansas opened the season with two home games last weekend. The Razorbacks knocked off Austin Peay, 2-1, on Friday and shutout Texas, 1-0, on Sunday to start the year 2-0-0.
"We felt like the things we wanted to be good at, we were, and we're proud of the girls," head Coach Colby Hale says. "We put this on them to create an identity of who they want to be and who they want to be known as. Not only did we show it on the field in both games, but even in what they talked about during the games and after the games, it's encouraging to know they have taken ownership."
Arkansas scored late to win both games. The Razorbacks took a 1-0 lead against APSU at the 35:07 mark, but the Lady Govs tied it eight minutes later. The game remained tied until Phyllis George's goal at 81:23 off an assist from Ashleigh Ellenwood and Sam Wolf. In a defensive battle against Texas on Sunday, neither team attempted a shot for the first 22 minutes and Jeriann Okoro's goal after a pass from Hailey Pescatore won it at 71:58.
"The games weren't pretty, but they were exciting and tough, and you could feel as they went on, there was a sense we were going to win," Hale says. "I think that came from the players and their confidence. There are things we can control and things we can't. No matter what happens, if we keep plugging away and grinding, and just keep doing what we do well, we feel like we'll have some success this year."
Through two games, the Razorbacks have generated 29 shots and put pressure on the defense with 15 of those on goal for a .517 shots on goal percentage. Arkansas has allowed 28 shots, but only eight have been on goal for a .286 shots on goal percentage. The defense has allowed just one goal, on a penalty kick, for a 0.50 goals against average. Last year, Arkansas had a 2.68 goals against average.
"Our approach is to say what the next challenge is before us and what our plan is for that challenge," Hale says. "With both games last week, we dealt with them very well. Any time you win, your morale is high, but we want to stay grounded in the ups and the downs. We want them to enjoy success and execute our game plans. They did what they were asked to do and did it as a team. It was a team effort."
Arkansas leads the Missouri State series 10-3-0 with a 7-1-0 lead in Fayetteville, but the Bears claimed a 2-0 victory at Razorback Field last year on the way to a 12-5-2 season.
MSU is 1-1-0 this season, opening the year with a win over Arkansas-Little Rock and falling to North Texas on Sunday. Both games were played in Springfield.
"Missouri State is good," Hale says. "They are hard-working and well-coached. This is another good challenge. We'll discuss with the players what we think we need to do to win the game, and go out and do it."
Following the Missouri State game, Arkansas is on the road for the first time this weekend. The Razorbacks play at SMU on Sunday at 7 p.m. and return home for a 7 p.m. contest against Kennesaw State on Sept. 2.