FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the fourth time in five years, the Arkansas soccer team is among the 64 teams that were selected Monday afternoon to compete in the 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament. The Razorbacks will travel to face NC State in the first round on Saturday with kickoff set for Noon CT in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Razorbacks (11-10-2) are coming off an improbable run through the SEC Tournament, reaching the final for the fourth time in program history and second time in as many seasons. With three wins and one tie in its last six matches, Arkansas goes into the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation.
“We knew our resume was strong,” Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said. “We had six top-50 results, including the number two team in the country, but I’m super excited and proud of the work the players have put in. This team’s belief is sky high right now. They believe they can beat anyone. We’re pretty confident with where we are right now and looking forward to going out and playing NC State.”
Arkansas will be making its fifth appearance overall in the tournament, all under Hale. In its history, Arkansas is 4-1-2 in NCAA Tournament games, and has never lost a first round match. Including SEC Tournament games, the Razorbacks are 9-5-4 in postseason matches, all coming in the last six seasons.
Joining Arkansas were eight other teams from the SEC that made the tournament field. The nine selections led all conferences and was a league record as South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Florida were all national seeds.
NC State is 14-5-1 on the season and finished 6-3-1 in ACC play, marking the most overall and conference wins for the program since 1995. The Wolfpack finished third in the league, its highest finish, also since 1995, and will be hosting the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
Arkansas and NC State have only faced off twice in their histories back in the 1992 and 1993 seasons. NC State won the matchup in 1992, 1-0 in Raleigh, while Arkansas won the match the following season, 4-2, in Macon, Georgia.
“It was great to see our name on the board,” senior Jessi Hartzler said. “We’re just glad to be able to keep competing and last week showed that whenever our backs are against the wall, we just like to come out and compete and have fun.”
The Razorbacks showed that competitive spirit last week at the SEC Tournament, winning three games over the course of five days to advance to its second-straight tournament final, becoming the lowest-seeded team to make the championship game.
After shutouts over Ole Miss and top-seeded South Carolina, Arkansas needed penalty kicks to advance past Vanderbilt and reach the final against Texas A&M. Over the course of the four game stretch, Arkansas’ defense only allowed three goals with the help of all-tournament keeper Jordan Harris.
“Last week was a really big confidence booster for us,” Harris said. “At Arkansas, we grind. At the end of the day, it comes down to who wants it more. I think that’s something that we all talk about a lot. We’re just going to keep that going. We’re more than prepared for this tournament and we’re going to keep going.”
For fans wishing to buy tickets for the match in Raleigh, they can do so by visiting the NC State website and buying them through the Wolfpack Ticket Office. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids.
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