FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ soccer program does something it’s never done before this week when the Razorbacks play host to Florida State on Sunday at 1 p.m. – face the top-ranked team in the country.
Florida State is ranked No. 1 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of American/Continental Tire poll. The Seminoles are 4-0-0 heading into Friday’s home game against Cal State Fullerton before traveling to Fayetteville.
Head coach Colby Hale is looking forward to the opportunity to face the Seminoles, but their ranking isn’t changing how Arkansas is preparing for the game.
"Obviously when you play a team that is No. 1 in the country, there are some challenges," Hale says. "But we’re not hyping it up. It’s another game against an opponent who is very, very good. It will be good for us and a good test to see where we are with some of the things we’ve been working on. We’re approaching it like any other game.
"There are challenges that Florida State will present," he says. "We’ll have to figure out ways to take advantage of a weakness or two if we can find one, and prevent them from doing what they are trying to do."
The highest-ranked opponent Arkansas has faced is the sixth-ranked team in the nation, and that’s happened twice. In 2007, the Razorbacks battled No. 6 Tennessee to a 1-1 tie in double-overtime. Last year, No. 6 Oklahoma State recorded a 4-0 victory over the Razorbacks. Both games were played at Razorback Field.
Arkansas lost to No. 6 OSU, No. 10 Tennessee and No. 8 Florida last year. In 2010, the Razorbacks recorded a 0-0 double-overtime tie at No. 17 Georgia, and fell to No. 14 South Carolina and No. 8 Florida.
Arkansas was close to pulling off a huge upset last season, leading No. 8 Florida 1-0 in the 80th minute before the Gators rallied for a 2-1 victory in overtime. Allie Chandler’s goal three minutes into the game held up until Florida scored at 79:13. Florida won it in the second minute of overtime.
Arkansas already has a top five experience this season, facing then-No. 5 Oklahoma State in an exhibition game and falling 2-0 in Stillwater on Aug. 11. OSU is now up to No. 3.
Other ranked teams on Arkansas’ schedule are No. 13 Missouri, No. 14 Texas A&M, No. 22 Tennessee and No. 24 Florida while Ole Miss and Kentucky are receiving votes.