FAYETTEVILLE – Looking to extend its two-match Southeastern Conference winning streak, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks battled the 19th-ranked Univ. of Florida Gators on a blustery day at Lady’Back Field on Sunday afternoon, eventually falling to the top 20 squad on a direct kick in the 82nd minute.
The loss drops the Lady Razorbacks to 6-11-0 overall and 3-7-0 in SEC action while Florida improves to 12-4-1 overall and 7-2-1 in conference play.
“It’s a fine line between winning and losing,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “Florida was very quick all over the field and I don’t feel that we had quite enough depth to keep up with them. I was quite happy with the way we played and thought that we played better into the wind than with it. We didn’t create a ton because it was tough to get behind their defense. Now we look to LSU on Sunday afternoon.”
A rough match from the start, both teams made big hits on their opponent drew the ire of the center referee who began to blow his whistle at a increased rate. Throughout the first half, Arkansas maintained possession throughout the midfield, even moving the ball to its forwards, but a well organized back four for Florida kept Arkansas at bay despite its best chances.
While Arkansas’ midfielders kept possession, the Lady Razorback defense also did its part allowing just one shot from outside the penalty area to find goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver. As the half wore on, Arkansas put together a nice run in the 19th minute, a nifty two-person game between Abbey Wilburn and Katie Hamilton near the top of the penalty area led to a great shot by Devon Burger, but the ringing shot hit the side of the net for a goal kick.
In the 29th minute, Florida had its best shot on net when a corner kick from left of the goal went to the top of the penalty area and found Ananda Erickson. Hitting a strong shot, Erickson’s ball headed for the post, but it was Burger that came up big for the Lady’Backs as she made her second goal line save in as many games to keep the game scoreless.
Not to be outdone by her defender, Dillsaver would also come up big in the opening half, when a Bianca Gibbs shot from just inside the penalty area headed for the near post. Diving to her left, Dillsaver was able to prevent the ball from going into the net, then scrambled to pick up the rebound.
The second half was just as rough as the first, but the ball continued to be dominated by both side’s midfield. Neither team was able to really create much although Florida did have a slight advantage in the shot department. Ten minutes into the half, Arkansas’ Katie Stauffer took a direct kick from 35 yards out, but the shot was saved by the Florida keeper. Twenty minutes later, Christina Burger had a step on the Florida defense, but the Gator defense recovered quickly and prevented a strong shot from Arkansas’ leading scorer.
Coming down to the final minutes, the Lady Razorbacks were called for a foul at the top of the penalty area giving the Gators a direct kick. Arkansas set up a six-person wall to guard the near post as Florida’s KeLeigh Hudson ran over the ball. Leaving it on the turf, Megan Kerns came in just behind and hit a knuckle ball into the side netting for the game’s lone goal as the Lady’Backs had no answer for the tremendous shot.
The Lady Razorbacks conclude their regular season with a berth to the SEC Championship Tournament on the line next Friday night when they host the LSU Tigers on Senior Night at Lady’Back Field beginning at 7:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.