AUBURN, Ala. – Senior Megan McCool scored for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team in the sixth minute of play, but the goal would not hold up as the Lady Razorbacks fell to Auburn University in double overtime, 2-1 in Auburn. Ala., on Friday night.
The loss drops the Lady Razorbacks to 4-10-0 on the season and 1-6-0 in Southeastern Conference action while Auburn improves to 5-8-1 overall and 4-3-0 in conference play.
“First of all what a wonderful game to listen to on the radio and watch as a fan,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “Two contrasting styles of play we well executed by both teams and this game could have been won by either side. Unfortunately it is another disappointing loss for us and I really don’t feel like our team has received the rewards for their hard work over the past three or four games. We are far from done and the general feeling of this team is that we are still in the thick of things for the SEC Tournament.”
The Lady Razorbacks took the early lead when senior Megan McCool connected on a shot from the right side to the far post at the 5:33 mark. The Lady Razorbacks attacked Auburn’s left defenders and sent a pass to the middle of the field where Christina Burger continued to push the ball to the far side. McCool was able to corral the pass in stride just outside the six-yard box, striking her go ahead shot to put the Lady Razorbacks up for just the fifth time this season.
Despite Arkansas’ lead, Auburn bounced back and pressured the Lady Razorbacks for most of the half. Setting up at the top of the penalty area, Arkansas’ defense was able to knock away most of Auburn attacks, but a pair of scoring opportunities gave the Arkansas faithful a scare. The first came on an Auburn attack along the left side that gave Auburn a 1-v-1 with Lady Razorback goalkeeper Carrie Dillsaver. The Auburn shot to the near side of the goal was brilliantly pushed over the end line by a diving Dillsaver to preserve Arkansas’ advantage with 22 minutes remaining in the half.
Auburn’s second opportunity came with just a pair of minutes left in the period when a long Auburn shot was mishandled by Dillsaver at the top of the six. Bouncing away from Dillsaver, she was able to scramble back and stop the ball just short of the goal despite the protests of the Auburn crowd.
Midway through the second half, Auburn tied the match at one when Courtney Crandell was able to hit a tough shot through a crowd that slipped by Dillsaver to knot the game at one in the 54th minute.
Auburn nearly made it a 2-1 game a pair of times in the second half, but tremendous plays by Dillsaver kept the game tied. On the first Auburn attempt, a bad Lady Razorback pass gave Crandell another opportunity on net, but Dillsaver corralled the straight on shot for her sixth of a career high 12 saves. Dillsaver’s eighth save of the night was certainly the most impressive as she stood on the goal line staring down Auburn’s Rhonda Stewart on a penalty kick. Looking the senior defender in the eyes, Dillsaver broke to her right, guessing correctly and stopping the shot. Leaving a rebound, Dillsaver quickly sprang to her feet and took in the rebound to make the save.
While Auburn had several second-half opportunities, so did the Lady Razorbacks as they nearly connected on a pair of shots. Coming on in the second half as a substitute, sophomore Sarah Gwisdala gave the Auburn defense another presence to worry about. Late in the contest, she took a strong shot from the left side of the penalty area that beat the Auburn keeper, but a back line save by a defender cleared the ball and kept the match at one.
Not long after Gwisdala’s shot was saved, Arkansas made another run at the goal, this time it was McCool attacking the left flank. Working her way into the mixer, McCool hit a shot that beat a diving Anna Fiser with Gwisdala bearing down on the back post, but the shot sailed just wide and out of the reach of the streaking forward for a goal kick.
In the first overtime period, Dillsaver would come up big again when Kristin Stewart raced past the Lady Razorback defense. Creating another one-on-one opportunity, Stewart hit a tough shot that Dillsaver was able to get a hand on for her last save of the contest.
Auburn would end the match at 104:51, when Stewart again attacked and drew the Lady Razorback defense to the baseline. She would then send a cross that nipped the fingers of a diving Dillsaver and found the foot of Jada Stewart who, unmarked, placed the ball into the open net for the deciding goal.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at Noon. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.