FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Britni Williams was masterful in goal, but despite her efforts and that of a solid Lady Razorback defense, the University of Arkansas soccer team fell to #23 Florida on Thursday night at Lady’Back Field, 1-0.
Williams made nine saves on the night including a pair from point-blank range to keep the Lady Razorbacks in the match where they spent a good portion of the 90 minutes playing defense.
“Overall this was a very good match,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “This is certainly the best we have played in our last four games and in the end it took a great goal to beat us. I thought that Britni and our back line were outstanding all night and we knew coming in that the scoring opportunities would be less and that we had to make the most of them.”
The match was statistically even through the opening 20 minutes of play as the midfield dominated the action. Florida held the possession statistics, but could not generate many shots in the early going. As the first half wore on, the Gators picked up the pace offensively and began to dominate the statistics, but could not find the right scoring combination.
Still scoreless heading into the final 10 minutes of the first half, Florida would finally get their combination for the games first and only score. Attacking the right side a cross by Caitlin Howard sailed into the six-yard box where Ashley Harris hit it with a diving header at the back post leaving the Arkansas defense no chance to make a save or block. The goal was Harris’ seventh on the year and gave Florida a crucial one-goal edge.
Arkansas’ strategy of defense first in the opening half would have to change in the second as it tried to match the Florida score. The more open style of play by the Lady Razorbacks led to more Florida opportunities, but thanks to Williams and the back line of Sam Bolton, Allison Harris, Megan Fawley and Rachel Smith, Florida’s real chances did not come often and when they did a Lady’Back was able to make a play.
Offensively, Arkansas’ Lindsay Patterson had a brilliant game even though she was unable to score. Playing in conjunction with several different Lady’Backs, Arkansas was able to pressure Florida on several occasions and force a quick clear rather than risk a shot.
With the victory, Florida improves to 10-4-2 on the year and 6-2-0 in Southeastern Conference action. Arkansas falls to 8-9-1 overall and 1-7-1 in league play.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Columbia, S.C., to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.