FAYETTEVILLE – Head coach Colby Hale and his Arkansas soccer team face top-ranked Florida State on Sunday at Razorback Field at 1 p.m.
Arkansas will be facing a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in program history, but Hale is very familiar with the Seminoles.
For the previous nine years, Hale was at Central Florida where the Knights recorded 130 victories, won six conference championships and earned seven NCAA Tournament bids, including last year’s squad which advanced to the Elite Eight.
While Hale was in Orlando, UCF played Florida State seven times, going 2-4-1.
"They are very good," he says. "They are getting better and better players and they have a strong international flair to them."
Hale says it’s obvious there are challenges when playing the No. 1-ranked team in the country, but there are also opportunities.
"We think there are some areas where we can have some success," he says. "We’re interested to see how the game plays out."
While at UCF, the Knights lost at home to FSU in 2003, 3-0; won on the road in 2004, 3-2; lost on the road in 2006, 2-0; tied at home in 2007, 3-3; lost on the road in 2008, 5-0; won at home in 2009, 1-0; and lost on the road in 2010, 3-1.
Arkansas also played Florida State in 2010 and the Razorbacks nearly pulled off a huge upset. Playing the No. 11 Seminoles in Tallahassee, the Razorbacks took Florida State to overtime before falling, 1-0. FSU had a 19-6 lead in shots but just an 8-6 advantage in shots on goal. Florida State won it in the first minute of the extra period.
"It will be good for us and a good test to see where we are with some things we’ve been working on," Hale says.