KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Arkansas scored an early goal and its defense made it hold up as the Razorback soccer team recorded a big 1-0 Southeastern Conference victory at Tennessee on Friday.
The Lady Volunteers were receiving votes for this week’s top 25 and were No. 18 in the NCAA RPI rankings. Arkansas is 2-0-1 in its last three games, beating No. 18 Kentucky and tying defending SEC champion South Carolina 1-1 in double-overtime before Friday’s win.
Arkansas is 5-5-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the SEC while UT is now 7-3-2 and 2-2-1. The win is Arkansas’ first over Tennessee since the first time the teams met in 1996, a stretch of 12 games. The teams tied in 2007.
"The one thing we had not done this year was prove we can play on the road," head coach Colby Hale said. "The effort and the performance they put in defensively was unbelievable. We were trying to think of an uncontested shot or a header that they won and we had a hard time coming up with one. Every ball served into the box, we got to. It was just a gritty, gritty performance and I couldn’t be happier."
Arkansas put pressure on the Lady Volunteers with an early goal. At 13:58, Evan Palmer passed from the right side to Allie Chandler in the middle of the field at the top of the 18. Chandler made a move around the top defender and fired a 15-yarder into the top right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead. The score is the 12th of her career.
"That was a great play," Hale said. "She picked up the ball in the midfield, beat a couple of players and put it in the top corner. Not only did she score the goal, but the defense she put in was outstanding."
Tennessee entered the game with six shutouts in 11 games, which ranked second in the SEC. The loss is the first for UT at home this year in six games and the only other team to blank the Lady Volunteers is UCLA.
Sophomore Sam Wolf started in goal and her first test came in the 20th minute. Wolf came out to meet a pass deep into the box and was able to clear just before the attacker reached the ball.
Two minutes later, Wolf made her first save on a ground ball shot from the left corner of the 18.
In the 26th minute, Tennessee crossed from the far corner into the six, but a header attempt went high over the left post of the goal and out. With 13 minutes left in the period, a header set up another shot for UT, from 12 yards out on the left side, but it was high over the goal.
UT’s best chance came at 42:41 after an Arkansas foul at the top of the 18. Ali Hall had a free kick from inside 30 yards and she hit a hard ground ball that got by the Arkansas wall, but Wolf made the save on the ground at the right post.
For the period, Tennessee had a 9-5 lead in shots and a 2-1 lead in shots on goal, but Arkansas led 1-0 on Chandler’s goal.
For most of the second half, Arkansas packed in the defense and forced Tennessee to create a goal.
Early on, in the 50th minute, Chandler created a chance after another pass from Palmer. Chandler dribbled down and got an angle around three defenders to put a shot on goal at the left post.
In the 53rd minute, a foul on Arkansas gave UT a free kick from the left, 35 yards out. The kick sailed into the box just outside the six, but Allie Tripp headed it out.
In the 60th minute, Tennessee crossed inside and several players for both teams tangled up and were on the ground, but Arkansas was able to clear and force the Lady Vols into a throw in.
Arkansas came right back and UT was called for a foul at the top of the 18, about 25 yards out. Allie Tripp took the shot over the UT wall and tried to curve it into the right post, but it was just wide.
Arkansas avoided several close calls the rest of the way.
Wolf punched out a header after a cross in the 65th minute and made a save on a follow-up shot. With 11 minutes remaining, a header after another corner went wide right. With just more than five minutes to go, Wolf jumped on a cross into the box just in front of a UT attacker.
The game ended with Tennessee rushing to get off a corner from the far side in the final 10 seconds. UT got the corner away, but time ran out before the Lady Vols could make a play on the ball.
Tennessee finished with a 21-10 advantage in shots, but only a 5-3 lead in shots on goal. UT also led in corner kicks, 7-1.
Wolf finished with five saves.
"It wasn’t pretty and they dealt with a lot of adversity, but we got the win," Hale said.
The Razorbacks are on the road again on Sunday for a noon tilt at No. 24 Florida.