FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas soccer team completed a sweep of its weekend games Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Vanderbilt at Razorback Field. Arkansas (11-5-0, 4-4-0) scored two first-half goals with scores by Sophie Wentz and Kim Schleif and held off a second-half charge by the Commodores to clinch the victory. The 11 wins are the most by UA since the 1996 season and ties the program-best mark.
“This is a huge win especially after the disappointment of last weekend where we thought we let two games get away from us,” head coach Gordon Henderson said. “This was not a pretty win. It’s the ugliest nice win you’ll ever see, but again, our team showed heart today.”
After a four-game losing streak was snapped with Friday’s win over Kentucky, the Razorbacks pushed its run to two games and evened their conference record. The four wins in Southeastern Conference play is tied for the most in school history and is Arkansas’ highest conference total since 1999.
“We’re always looking to do better than the year before so we’re definitely happy right now,” Schleif said. The Razorbacks won just once during league play last season.
The Razorback took control early when Wentz knocked in her third goal of the season at the 7:47 mark. The sequence began when Kat Moffett centered a bally to Abbey Wilburn from the left side of the box. After settling the ball, Wilburn fired a shot from 15 yards out that Vanderbilt goalkeeper Rachel Bachtel was able to knock away but not corral. Wentz, charging in from the right, was there to put the rebound into the back of the net to give the Arkansas the 1-0 lead.
With the helper, Wilburn moves into a tie for third place on the program’s all-time assist list with 16 career assists. Her four assists on the season are also a team high.
Arkansas continued the attack and notched its second goal when Schleif netted her second goal of the season at the 23:01 mark. A ball was played from the backline to midfield where Lindsay Patterson flicked a ball over two Vanderbilt defenders to Schleif who was clear up the right sideline. With just Bachtel to beat, Schleif dribbled into the box and put the ball past the Commodore keeper for a two-goal lead.
Through 16 games this season, the Razorbacks have outscored their opponents in the first half, 15-1. Arkansas hasn’t allowed a first-half goal since the third game of the season, a 4-3 win over Oral Roberts.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Vanderbilt cut Arkansas’ lead in half with a goal by Lyndsey Wilcox. Much like the Razorbacks’ second score, Wilcox was in the right place for a put back when Arkansas keeper Britni Williams couldn’t control a save on a shot by Megan Kinsella. With the ball rolling, Wilcox scored the goal at the 65:41 mark.
Vanderbilt (8-7-1, 2-6-0) outshot the home team, 5-3, during the final 45 minutes of play, but Williams made three saves in the second half to keep the Commodores’ tally to one. Trying to keep fresh legs on the field, Arkansas used 19 players during the game, the highest total of the conference season.
“At the end of the game, we had so many injuries going on, we were held together by tape and glue and trying to plug gaps as best we could,” Henderson said. “It’s just those little injuries that mount up throughout the course of a weekend. I’m very proud of our squad. They bended but didn’t break. All credit to Vanderbilt. I thought they worked incredibly hard. We had a tough time containing their midfield and speed up top.”
Arkansas’ last win over Vanderbilt, a 2-1 victory in Fayetteville, came during the 2004 season. With their four-game home stand over, the Razorbacks will travel to Gainesville, Fla., to take on defending SEC champion Florida. The Oct. 23 matchup is set for a 6 p.m. CT start. For continued coverage of UA soccer, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.