FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Beth Stratton scored the game-winning goal in overtime and Kailey Anders had two assists as Arkansas opened Southeastern Conference play with a 2-1 soccer victory over Ole Miss Friday at Razorback Field.
Anders took a shot from the left side of the six-yard box, which deflected off Rebel goal keeper Alley Ronaldi. Stratton filled in on the right side and headed in the deflection from about four yards out just over two minutes into the extra period.
The win improves the Razorbacks to 3-5-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the SEC. Ole Miss is 4-4-1 and 0-1-1.
"We’ve been working on a new mental objective to get the ball in the net," Stratton, who has two goals for the year, said. "I’ve been out with an injury all week, so it feels good to come out here, score a goal and get a win. It was definitely a hard match."
The Razorbacks out-shot Ole Miss 19-10 and had a 7-4 advantage in shots on goal.
Allie Chandler led the attack with six shots while Kailey Anders had five, including three on goal, along with her two assists.
"We fought for a win," head coach Erin Aubry, who missed Sunday’s game at Colorado College with an illness, said. "We have a very young team. Talent isn’t enough to win. You have to fight, and tonight we were very focused."
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead at 22:45 of the first period. Freshman Jeri Ann Okoro scored her first goal of the season off an assist by Anders. Okoro took a pass on the left wing at the corner of the 18, made a move to her right to get around a defender and fired a shot over the head of Ronaldi into the top left corner of the net.
"We fought with all our heart," Okoro said. "We kept saying ‘we are going to win.’ We felt like this game was ours and we were going to take control of it."
Okoro and Stratton each had two shot attempts with one goal.
Ole Miss tied it just over a minute after Okoro’s score. Maddie Cunningham headed in a corner kick from Rafaelle Souza into the left half of the goal at 21:24.
Arkansas had a chance to regain the lead at 5:11 after Anders was fouled just outside the Ole Miss 18. Her free kick went high over the Rebel wall out past the end line. The Razorbacks had another chance three minutes later when Allie Tripp got deep in the box, but defensive pressure didn’t allow her to get off a solid shot attempt, and Ronaldi made an easy save.
Through the first 45 minutes, Arkansas had a 9-3 lead in shots and a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Chandler almost put the Razorbacks in front early in the second half. She made a move around her defender and got off a clean, hard shot from the top of the 18, but it sailed just above the crossbar.
Ole Miss had a couple of opportunities, but Souza’s shot after getting wide of the defense deep in the box was blocked and a shot by Alix Hildal from the left wing went wide right. Souza had another opportunity at 20:33 after she drew the keeper out, but her shot was just wide right. Souza had another chance at 2:46, but her shot flew over the net from the right wing 15 yards out.
At 1:44 of regulation, Taylor Green’s shot from the top of the 18 off a deflection hit the crossbar and went out.
The Razorbacks improved to 7-10-1 all-time in SEC-openers and in SEC home-openers.
Arkansas stays home this weekend to entertain Mississippi State in another SEC game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Razorback Field.
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