FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Kelly O’Connor nabbed the first goal of the season for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer team on Friday night in Fayetteville as the Lady Razorbacks downed the Univ. of Tulsa, 2-0.
The win moves Arkansas to 1-0-0 on the season while Tulsa falls to 0-1-0. The Lady Razorback season opening victory is their first since 2005 when it also beat Tulsa, although that contest was on the road.
“A win is a win,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “This was your typical first game. We saw some good things and some things that we need to work on. I thought that we showed good energy and composure throughout the game. We did have a lot of unforfced errors, but that is common with a first game.”
The Lady Razorbacks wasted little time before asserting themselves on the field. Crisp one and two-touch passes forced the Golden Hurricane players to run in circles for most of the opening minutes. In the 11th minute of play, that precision paid off as sophomore Kim Schleif darted along the outside of the Tulsa penalty area with the ball at her feet. Sending a nice pass through the mixer, Schleif found O’Connor eight yards out and she rocketed a shot past the helpless Tulsa goalkeeper.
“Any time you get on the scoreboard early that is a confidence booster,” Henderson said. “That settles the team down and allows us to play our game. Having a 2-0 lead at the half gave us an opportunity to play with different systems.”
Arkansas’ second goal came in the 39th minute when a Sarah Gwisdala pass from the right side found the head of junior Lindsay Patterson who dove for the ball nine yards from goal. Hitting the ball just right, Patterson looped a shot over the Tulsa goalkeeper and into the net for the insurance that Arkansas needed.
In goal for the Lady Razorbacks was freshman Britni Williams who stopped five relatively weak Tulsa shots forf her first career win and shutout. The Lady Razorback blanking was the first time since 1998 they opened the year with a shutout win and just the fourth time in the 22-year history of the program. The shutout is also the first time in Lady Razorback history that a true freshman posted a shutout in her first career game.
Overall, the Lady Razorbacks controlled the tempo of play throughout the 90-minutes of action. Tulsa did show improved play over the final 45 minutes, but it was too little, too late as Arkansas stymied most of the Golden Hurricane attacks and forced long shots from outside the penalty area which Williams was able to pluck out of the air.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Univ. of Memphis at Lady’Back Field at 1:00 p.m.