NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Arkansas soccer team’s rash of injuries forced it to play even more shorthanded on Sunday afternoon in a 2-0 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tenn.
Already down four players to season-ending injuries and with several others playing at less than 100 percent, Arkansas’ bench consisted of just four reserves. The latest injury facing the Lady’Backs was junior Whitney Allison who has been battling a back problem the entire season and was unable to play on Sunday afternoon.
“I thought in the first half we made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the back which allowed them to score,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “We looked emotionally and physically tired for the opening 45 minutes. In the second we showed more heart and desire but two crossbars and two missed 1-v-1’s with the keeper were a tough emotional pill to swallow. This team is resilient and they will bounce back.”
Through the opening moment of the match Arkansas seemed to have all the possession but none of the luck as they failed to get a shot off at the Vanderbilt goal. After sorting out their initial woes, the Commodores evened the possession and were able to convert on the offensive end with several long shots.
Vanderbilt’s offensive philosophy paid off in the 19th minute when a shot by Molly Kinsella was touched by Arkansas’ Britni Williams, but her push of the ball was not enough to put it over the goal and it sailed to the back corner to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.
Vanderbilt appeared to be in business again just three minutes later when it countered a strong Lady Razorback attack. The result of the counter left Vanderbilt with two players wide and essentially a 1v1 with the Arkansas net. Kinsella would wind up to take a 25 yard strike that Williams pushed over the goal for a corner kick and keep the game at 1-0 for the moment.
The Commodores would continue to pressure the Lady Razorbacks through the middle of the opening 45 minutes and on an attack to the right side would make it a 2-0 game. On a nice play in the corner, a Vanderbilt midfielder was able to elude the Lady Razorback defense and send a cross inside the six-yard box. The pass was taken by Amy Wilcox who turned and fired a shot that deflected off Williams and into the net.
In an attempt to get at least one back before the half, Arkansas would push the tempo in the latter stages of the period and get a pair of near misses. The first came from the foot of Sam Bolton who took a 15-yard shot amid confusion in the penalty area which the Vanderbilt goalkeeper touched over the crossbar for a corner kick. Minutes later another Arkansas corner kick found the head of freshman Ally Atkins whose header pinged off the crossbar and was eventually cleared by the Commodore defense.
The Arkansas attack in the final moments of the first half carried over to the second and the Lady Razorbacks certainly held the pace of play. The attack would begin to pay dividends midway through the period as another two Lady Razorback chances nearly paid dividends. The first came on a sort of breakaway by senior Alison Harter who got off a strong shot that was smothered by the Vanderbilt goalkeeper. Arkansas’ second opportunity came just minutes later when Kathleen Paulsen hit a shot off her thigh on a corner kick that pinged off the crossbar and was cleared.
Arkansas’ loss drops it to 8-8-1 overall and 1-6-1 in Southeastern Conference games while Vanderbilt improves to 5-8-2 overall and 2-4-1 in conference action.
The Lady Razorbacks return to Fayetteville for their next match, a Thursday evening tilt against the Florida Gators at Lady’Back Field beginning at 7:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.