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SEC Tournament opener vs. USC

BY ANDRES FOCIL
SEC Tournament opener vs. USC

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – Arkansas’s soccer team makes its first appearance in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in 12 years when the Razorbacks meet South Carolina at 4 p.m. on Monday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.

Arkansas is the No. 7 seed and the Gamecocks are the No. 10 seed. The winner moves on to Wednesday’s second round and faces No. 2 Texas A&M at noon.

Monday’s game is available on a stream at SECDigitalNetwork.com.

The Razorbacks and USC, the defending SEC regular-season champion, meet in Fayetteville on Sept. 23 and battled to a 1-1 double-overtime tie.

"South Carolina is good," head coach Colby Hale says. "They are talented and good defensively. The first game was pretty even. Now that you’re in the conference tournament, it’s an elimination game so everyone is 0-0."

In the first meeting, Jeriann Okoro scored off passes from Phyllis George and Allie Chandler to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead at 55:00. USC’s Danielle Au tied it at 69:50 before the teams played two scoreless overtime periods.

South Carolina led 16-11 in shots, but Arkansas had a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal.Arkansas has won three of its last four and enters the tournament 9-9-1 overall and 6-6-1 in the SEC. The nine wins are the most since the 2008 team finished 11-8-0 and the six SEC victories are a school record. The Razorbacks also recorded the first two wins over ranked teams in program history, topping No. 18 Kentucky at home, 3-2, and No. 16 Missouri on the road, 2-1.

"We like our group," Hale says. "They work hard and have a great mentality. The vibe within the group right now is very good. We’re looking forward to a good performance in the game."

Arkansas takes a balanced attack into the tournament. The Razorbacks have 23 goals by nine different players. Ashleigh Ellenwood leads with five while Chandler and Okoro have four each. Fifteen Razorbacks have at least one assist, led by Allie Tripp with four, and Chandler and Tyler Allen with two each.

"We all worked really hard this year and it’s great to have that work pay off," Chandler says. "We’re doing everything the coaches are asking of us and preparing as much as we can. We know we have to work extremely hard. If we put in the work and follow the game plan, we know we’ll have a chance to win."

Arkansas is 4-6 all-time in the SEC Tournament. In their last appearance, the Razorbacks fell to top-seeded Florida 4-1 in the first round in Athens, Ga., in 2000.

The Razorbacks reached the championship game in the first tournament in 1993, losing to Vanderbilt 3-2 in double-overtime. The Razorbacks reached the semifinals in 1994 and made another trip to the finals in 1996, losing to Florida 3-2 in double-overtime. The Razorbacks were eliminated in the first round in 1997 and 1999.

SEC Tournament Schedule

MondayNo. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 South Carolina, 4 p.m., SECDigitalNetwork.comNo. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m., SECDigitalNetwork.com

WednesdayNo. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 7-10 winner, noon, SECDigitalNetwork.comNo. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 6 Auburn, 2:30 p.m., SECDigitalNetwork.comNo. 1 Florida vs. No. 8-9 winner, 5 p.m., SECDigitalNetwork.comNo. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Missouri, 7:30 p.m., SECDigitalNetwork.com

FridaySemifinal No. 1, 4 p.m., ESPN3Semifinal No. 2, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3

SundayChampionship game, 2:30 p.m., ESPNU



Sports Category : Soccer (W)