FAYETTEVILLE — For the first time in the 28-year history of the program, the University of Arkansas soccer team will be playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks earned an at-large berth into the 64-team field and will head to Stillwater, Okla., on Friday to take on Oklahoma State, as the full bracket was unveiled via the NCAA Selection Show Monday on NCAA.com. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex. It will be the sixth meeting between the two sides. The first NCAA Tournament berth adds to a record-setting year for the Razorbacks under the direction of second-year head coach Colby Hale. Arkansas has established program records for wins (13) and wins over a two-year span (22), while it picked up its first win at the SEC Tournament since 1996, a week ago today.
“We felt like we had accomplished a lot on the season and had set quite a few records," said Head Coach Colby Hale. "We knew we had a shot at a bid and we thought we were deserving of a spot based on our body of work. I’m proud of the girls and honestly we just wanted the opportunity at the national level to show that we belong.”
Arkansas will carry a 13-8 overall mark into its first NCAA postseason that includes nine one-goal victories and a 5-2 record in overtime contests. The Razorbacks 13 wins are tied for the fifth-most in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which saw six of its members make the field of 64. With soccer earning its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, all 19 of Arkansas’ athletics programs have now advanced to the NCAA Tournament in their respective sport. "We never really set tangible goals," said Hale. "We never say we’re going to try to do this by this time. The girls are just committed to working hard and committed to our core values. We just kind of told them if they would do that, we would exceed everyone’s expectations and they have certainly done that."
The Cowgirls are fresh off a run to the Big XII championship game where they suffered a tough 1-0 loss to West Virginia. Oklahoma State stands at 9-6-6 on the season.
"It’s another game," said Hale. "We told the team to show up, train, commit to the game plan and compete as hard as you can. We’ll see how the result works out for us."
The winner of Friday’s match will take on the winner of UCF and St. John’s in the second round. For more information on Arkansas soccer and the NCAA Tournament, follow the team on Twitter @RazorbackSoccer and stay tuned to www.ArkansasRazorbacks.com.