FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Kelly O’Connor scored in the 15th minute, but her goal was not enough as the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team dropped its Southeastern Conference opener to the Univ. of Mississippi in overtime, 2-1, on Friday night at Lady’Back Field.
Arkansas falls to 7-3-0 overall and 0-1-0 in SEC play while Mississippi improves to 4-3-2 overall and 1-0-0 in conference action.
“This was a well played match by both sides,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “This game had intensity unlike any game we’ve seen this year. I thought that we did very well to deal with that. Kelly O’Connor scored on a magnificent strike, but after that I thought that they were able to take the momentum of the match. We did a good job in the second half to regroup and if that one goal is not cleared off the line then the outcome is completely different.”
O’Connor’s strike at 14:05 was one for the highlight reel as she took a pass from Abbey Wilburn just outside the center circle O’Connor dribbled up the field and struck a knuckler from 30 yards out. Her shot looked to sneak under the crossbar but was touched by Mississippi goalkeeper Megan Vickery. Her finger tip save pushed the ball off the crossbar, but in a quirky moment, the ball bounced off the bar and then off the back of Vickery and rolled over the goal line.
The goal by O’Connor was her fifth of the season and ended a three-game scoreless streak by the Lady Razorbacks against the Lady Rebels that dates back to the 2003 season.
The game remained a 1-0 Arkansas lead late into the second half when it appeared that the Lady Razorbacks were going to go up by two. A strong offensive counterstrike led to a shot from just outside the 18-yard box by junior Lindsay Patterson which was blocked by the Mississippi defense. The ensuing rebound went to freshman Camille Flores who got another shot off that snuck by Vickery and was headed to the back of the net before Mississippi’s Austin Brown was able to backtrack and clear the ball off the goal line keeping it a one-goal match.
The goal line save by Brown turned the tide of play back in the favor of Mississippi and three minutes later the match was tied at one. Working a corner kick from the left side, all-SEC midfielder Chrissy Strini hit a cross to the near post which was touched by Danielle Johnson and set into the goal by Jennifer Hance with less that two minutes left on the clock.
It took just over five minutes into the first overtime for Mississippi to net the winning score when Hance once again charged the goal and scored on a cross. This time it was Amy Bayles that sent the pass across from the right side and ended the contest.
The Lady Rebels first goal of the match ended Arkansas’ school record streak of shutout minutes at 506:53, more than 140 minutes longer than the previous record set in 1992. It also ended Arkansas’ school-record tying streak of consecutive shutouts at four. The two goals allowed by the Lady Razorbacks are the most they have surrendered since they lost to Memphis on Sept. 2, a game that also ended 2-1 in overtime.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action Sunday afternoon when they welcome Mississippi State Univ. to Lady’Back Field beginning at 1:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.