OXFORD, Miss. – The Arkansas soccer team extended its win streak to seven as it blanked Ole Miss, 2-0, in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Goals by Kathleen Paulsen and Lindsay Patterson provided the offensive punch and Britni Williams racked up her 12th career shutout in the win. The victory marks the Razorbacks’ first against Ole Miss since the 1996 season, an 11-game streak.
"Obviously, this is a great way to start the SEC season," head coach Gordon Henderson said. "Ole Miss is a quality opponent, but there was nothing lucky about our victory tonight, it was well earned. I thought we started the game very well and created some good looks on goal."
Paulsen opened the scoring at the 23:21 mark with an 18-yard shot from the top of the box. The junior midfielder’s shot knocked off the bottom of the crossbar before bouncing in for the Razorbacks’ first goal of the conference season.
"I thought we were deserving of our 1-0 lead," Henderson said. "After we scored our goal, they took it to us for about 15 minutes, as any good team will do, but we were able to defend without giving them any major looks at goal."
Arkansas controlled the momentum in the first half, outshooting the Rebels, 5-2, in the opening 45 minutes of play. The Razorback backline had its hands full against an Ole Miss offense that included two all-conference performers—Amy Bayles and Jennifer Hance—but the duo was held to just five shots and one shot on goal. Hance and Arkansas sophomore Kelly O’Connor came into the game tied among a group of players tied for the conference lead with five goals.
By the end of the game, Patterson joined that list as she found the back of the net for the third straight game with her goal in the second half. After coming off the bench in her first three games of the season, Patterson made her first appearance in the starting lineup against the Rebels.
After a foul was called on Ole Miss, sophomore Lauren Hallauer booted the ball deep into Arkansas’ offensive territory. O’Connor elevated to meet the ball in the air and flicked it to her left to Patterson who was making a run into the box. Patterson settled the ball and faked a turn over her left shoulder but swung back right toward the middle of the field.
After letting the Rebel defender go by, Patterson planted and sent a 15-yard strike past Ole Miss goalkeeper Megan Vickery to the far left post at the 72:26 mark. The assist was the second of the season for O’Connor, both of which have been on the starting end of a Patterson goal.
"In the second half, I thought we did very well to match Ole Miss’ intensity," Henderson said. "We scored a very, very good second goal. Overall I thought Paulsen was outstanding in the center of midfield for us and, as usual, our backline, including the goalkeeper, was fantastic."
Williams finished the game with three saves, two of those coming in the second half. The sophomore goalkeeper hasn’t allowed a goal in 513:24 and lowered her goals against average to 0.46. By not allowing a goal, the Razorbacks have recorded six straight shutouts.
The win marks the first SEC opening victory for the Razorbacks since the 2004 season in a 2-1 win over Vanderbilt. Arkansas’ SEC-opening win on the road is also its first since 2003. The seven-game win streak matches the longest such run in school history, tying the mark set by the 2006 squad.
The Razorbacks will close out the weekend with a trip to Starkville, Miss., to take on the Mississippi St. Bulldogs in a 1 p.m. matchup. Arkansas has won five straight against the Bulldogs. Visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com for more news as Arkansas soccer continues its conference-opening weekend.