FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ soccer team takes a three-game winning streak into Thursday’s 7 p.m. Southeastern Conference regular-season finale at LSU.
The Razorbacks have consecutive wins over Auburn, at No. 16 Missouri and at Mississippi State to improve to 9-8-1 overall and 6-5-1 in the SEC. LSU, which won at Ole Miss and at Missouri last week, is 8-7-4 overall and 4-6-2 in conference play.
"We have a lot of confidence right now and we never give up," head coach Colby Hale says. "If we’re up a goal or down a goal we don’t get too rattled. We just go out, execute the game plan and fight until they blow the whistle. We’ve scored some goals lately so they believe we can win. The ball is going in the net and it builds on itself. They understand who we are and they believe if we fight for 90 minutes, we have a chance against to win."
Arkansas has already earned a spot in next week’s SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., but Hale wants his team to continue fighting.
"There’s still a lot on the line," he says. "We can get a bye in the first round of the tournament and there are some other implications, but we haven’t talked about it much. Thursday’s game is another big challenge because it is the next one and LSU is good."
LSU, which was 13-8-1 a year ago, is second in the SEC with 112 saves and 5.89 saves per game.
"LSU is similar to us," Hale says. "They were on the bubble for the SEC Tournament and won two huge road games last week, and they came from behind in both. I know they will have a lot of confidence. LSU is good, well-coached, athletic and experienced."
Arkansas throws a balanced attack at the Tigers. The Razorbacks have 21 goals this year by nine players and 19 assists by 15 players. Allie Chandler and Ashleigh Ellenwood lead the team with four goals each while Andrea Carlson, Lindsey Mayo and Jeriann Okoro have three. Allie Tripp leads the team with three assists, followed by Tyler Allen and Chandler with two each.
Ellenwood was the SEC Freshman of the Week for her performance last week, which included a .500 shots on goal percentage in the wins at Missouri and MSU, and scoring both goals in the win over the Tigers. Carlson had a two-goal game herself, getting both scores in the win over the Bulldogs in Starkville.
Arkansas trailed both Missouri and MSU 1-0 at the half, but rallied for 2-1 wins in each game.
"To come from behind on the road against a ranked team is good and we told them they earned the right to celebrate for the night (at No. 16 Missouri), but let’s get ready for Sunday (at MSU)," Hale says. "Sometimes when you have a big result on Friday and travel for Sunday, you have a letdown and we didn’t play our best on Sunday. Mississippi State took it to us, especially for the first 20 to 25 minutes. At the half, we talked about being ourselves. When we do that, we can win. To come from behind and score late to win again speaks volumes about our fitness and depth."
The Tigers lead the all-time series 11-5-1 with an 8-1-1 advantage in Baton Rouge. LSU won in Fayetteville last year, 3-0. In 2010, Arkansas’ last trip to LSU, the Tigers posted a 1-0 victory.
The SEC Tournament begins Monday in Orange Beach, Ala., with the seventh seed facing the No. 10 seed at 4 p.m., and the eighth and ninth seeds meeting at 6:30 p.m. Following an off day on Tuesday, Wednesday’s second round includes four games. The No. 2 seed meets the winner between No. 7 and No. 10 at noon, the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds play at 2:30, the No. 1 seed faces the eight-nine winner at 5, and the fourth and fifth seeds square off at 7:30.