GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Arkansas soccer team (11-6-0, 4-5-0) was on the wrong end of a 3-0 decision Thursday evening against No. 7 Florida at James G. Pressley Stadium. Leading by one at the half, the Gators (14-2-1, 9-0-0) tacked on two second-half goals by Tahnai Annis to clinch the victory. The Razorbacks were looking for their first win against Florida in program history.
“I thought it was a very well played college game from both sides,” head coach Gordon Henderson said. “There was the pivotal decision to award Florida the free kick about 25 yards from goal to set up their first goal. It was also pivotal because of the timing of the decision with three minutes or so left in the first half, but that’s sports.”
A scoreless first half was interrupted by a free-kick goal by Megan Kerns at the 41:21 mark. The Florida forward was awarded the shot after a foul was called on the Razorbacks as Kerns was starting an attack on the edge of the 18-yard box. The free kick got past Arkansas goalkeeper Britni Williams to her right and gave the Gators the 1-0 lead.
Arkansas wasn’t without its first-half chances as it forced Florida goalkeeper Meghan Berlingo to make three saves in the opening 45 minutes. Lindsay Patterson fired off the first chance after faking to her left and turning back over her right shoulder. With the defense behind her, Patterson put a 20-yard shot on goal but Berlingo, diving to her left, knocked the ball away with her outstretched left hand. The Razorbacks outshot Florida in the first half, 5-4.
“I actually thought it was a good, even game and we created some good looks on Florida’s goal during the game,” Henderson said. “At the end of the day it was a win for them and a loss for us, but we have nothing to hang our heads about. All credit to Florida for their play. They are a very fast, quality side and they are No. 7 in the country for a reason.”
At the 66:01 mark, Annis knocked in her first goal of the game. Williams made a save on a shot by Ameera Abdullah, but wasn’t able to control the rebound. Annis, breaking into the box, was there to tuck the ball into the back of the net to put the Gators ahead by two.
Just over three minutes later, Kerns and Annis connected for the Gators’ final tally. From the right side of the field, Kerns crossed it low to a pair of streaking teammates. Abdullah, running up the middle of the box, skipped over the ball to allow it to roll through to Annis who was open on the back side. The Gator midfielder scored the ball for her second of the game.
After the offensive spurt by Florida, the Razorbacks kept up the pressure but couldn’t mount a comeback. Arkansas finished the game with four shots on goal to Florida’s ten. Williams collected seven saves on the night.
“In the second half, we tried to attack their backline a bit more,” Henderson said. “To be fair, they caught us on two quality counters. I think we can leave this game with our heads held high and this may be our best performance against them in the past 12 years.”
With the split week, Arkansas will return to Fayetteville to close out the weekend with a Sunday matchup with South Carolina at Razorback Field. The game will be the team’s home finale and the Senior Day festivities will go off during a pre-game ceremony. For more details and news, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.