FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorback soccer team stayed square with third-ranked South Carolina for the majority of the match Sunday night. However, two Gamecocks goals in a span of two minutes near the end of the first half was the undoing for Arkansas as it fell, 2-0.
The Gamecocks (12-1-0, 5-0-0 SEC) had won nine-straight matches coming into Sunday and were able to make it 10 in a row on the backs of goals from Savannah McCaskill and Bianca Galassini in the 40th and 42nd minutes, respectively.
Arkansas (7-7-1, 2-3-1 SEC) was fresh off its shutout victory over Auburn last Thursday and had five of its seven wins coming at home this year. Unfortunately, the Razorbacks only managed three shots on goal with 11 shots in total, its’ fifth-straight match with 13 shots or less.
“We’re not here to hang with good teams,” Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said. “That’s the frustrating thing. I thought for 60 or 70 minutes, we were the better team tonight. We were every bit up to the challenge. But, 60 to 70 minutes is not going to be good enough to beat South Carolina. In those last 20 minutes, we didn’t perform very well. After the first goal, we told ourselves we had to get to half down 1-nil and we didn’t.”
Senior Jessi Hartzler led all Razorbacks with three shots in the match. Freshman Nayeli Perez followed up with two shots of her own in 51 minutes of play.
In the net, redshirt junior Jordan Harris made her seventh-straight start and totaled two saves. Unfortunately, the loss drops her record to 4-3-1 on the year.
One of Arkansas’ best opportunities came in the 30th minute with the match still scoreless. After a South Carolina turnover near midfield, Hartzler sent a long kick into the middle of the box where sophomore Kayla McKeon was there to corral the ball and put a good boot toward the net. However, Gamecock keeper Mika Krzeczowski was there for the diving save to her right to keep it at 0-0.
South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 – 40th Minute
With just under six minutes remaining, the Gamecocks were able to develop a play down the right side of the field on a counterattack, which led to their first goal of the match. Breukelen Woodard got a cross in to McCaskill, who beat her defender with one touch of the right foot to send the ball past Harris into the right side of the net. It was McCaskill’s fifth goal of the year.
South Carolina 2, Arkansas 0 – 42nd Minute
Two minutes later, South Carolina, again, caught Arkansas in the run of play starting with Luciana Zullo down the left side. As Zullo dribbled into the box, she took a right-footed shot that was blocked by Arkansas’ back line. However, Galassini was there for the rebound and the put-back goal to put her team up 2-0. It was Galassini’s third goal of the year.
In the second half, Arkansas controlled possession more and got a few looks that might have cut the lead in half. Five of its 11 shots came in the second period and it also won three of its four corners in the final 45 minutes.
In the 57th minute, Perez made a great run down the left side of the field before crossing a ball into Taylor Malham. Malham was able to stay on-sides and seemed to have beaten the Gamecock back line. She one-timed a shot from eight yards out, but Krzeczowski was there, once again, for one of her three saves in the game.
“In the second half I thought we were going to get one,” Hale said. “If we had gotten one, I thought the game would have changed. We need to grow from this, but there are so many positives to take. We are not a moral victory team and we are not here to hang with anyone. I don’t care who they are. We’re here to win and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Arkansas has only one match next week as it goes back on the road to face LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Thursday, Oct. 12. First kick is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network+.
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