North Texas Hate Week continued Friday, as the Arkansas Razorbacks soccer team hosted the Mean Green in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas’s press finally managed to break through in the second half, and the 3-0 result pushed the Hogs into the second round.
The Hogs managed to keep possession of the ball for most of the first half but couldn’t find the back of the net. They opened quickly on the offensive, with three of Marissa Kinsey’s five first-half corner kicks taken in the first ten minutes alone. Each one was turned away. The Mean Green’s goalkeeper, Kelsey Brann, had to be on guard early and often, and for so much of the game, she proved herself capable. Brann saved all five of the Razorbacks’ shots on goal.
For the Razorbacks’ part, their own goalkeeper, Katie Lund, only needed to save one shot in the first half, and indeed, the entire game. One of the most thrilling parts of watching this team is how their aggression leads to so much action taking place on the end of the pitch where their opponent’s goal is located. Lund is incredibly capable, with the ninth-best save percentage in the nation, but her save chances are often rare, coming behind this team. Much of her action against the Mean Green came from taking advantage of her powerful leg in free kick situations.
In the first half, the Hogs managed sixteen shots without getting one in. The 1,331 fans were literally buzzing for a score, and the waiting began to grow tortuous.
All of those missed chances in the first half finally began to knock holes in the Mean Green defense in the second half. In the 55th minute, on their seventh corner kick, the Hogs finally got one through when Tori Cannata’s header nipped over the outstretched hands of Kelsey Brann.
As stingy as the Hog defense has played all year, led by SEC co-defender of the year, Haley Van Fossen, a 1-0 score always feels tenuous.
The tension eased for good when Anna Podojil’s shot from outside the box ricocheted off Brann and onto the left foot of Parker Goins. Goins knocked the ball between the left post and the grounded goalkeeper, and the Hogs had some insurance in the 82nd minute.
The celebratory mood was enhanced further in the 84th minute, when Marissa Kinsey’s shot struck the crossbar, bounced just outside of the goal, where the pursuing Kaelee Van Gundy found the ball and guided it in for her first goal of the season. When it rains goals, it pours goals.
For the game, Arkansas absolutely dominated with 26 shots, 10 on goal. North Texas only managed one shot.
The Razorbacks advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they will play NC State next Friday. The teams last met in 2017, when the Wolfpack ended the Razorbacks’ season in the first round of the NCAAs. The Hogs have some revenging to do!
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