Overtime heartbreak hands Lady'Backs first loss

FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Rachel Smith scored the lone University of Arkansas goal as the Lady Razorback soccer team dropped a 2-1 double-overtime heartbreaker to the Univ. of Memphis on Sunday afternoon at Lady’Back Field.

The loss evens out the Lady Razorback record at 1-1-0 while Memphis improves to 2-0-0.

“This was a tough loss,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “It was a hot day and by the time we got to the second overtime both back lines were just dead tired. The difference was that they made a play. This gives us a better idea of where we are as a team and what we need to work on as we go forward.”

In the 23rd minute freshman Kelly O’Connor began to break away from the Memphis defense with the ball and was taken down by defender Kelsey Bakker. The dangerous play immediately brought out the yellow card from the referee much to the appreciation of the 551 fans in attendance and gave the Lady’Backs a free kick in the middle of the pitch 22 yards from the goal.

Setting up their play, Arkansas used junior Abbey Wilburn as a decoy as she ran over the ball from left to right giving the left-footed Smith a good opening. Smith’s strike streaked past the four-person Memphis wall and was hit with such force that it went through the hands of goalkeeper Isabel Briones and into the side netting.

With its second lead in two games, Arkansas was flying all over the field, making plays and pushing the tempo. Unfortunately, the Lady’Backs were unable to add another score and went into the halftime with just a 1-0 lead.

The second half witnessed Memphis become the aggressors and take the action right at the Arkansas defense. Aiding Memphis’ cause was a lack of precision on Arkansas’ passes which allowed many to be intercepted before they reached their intended target. Despite the setbacks, Arkansas continued to hold the edge thanks to the play of the back line and goalkeeper.

The Lady Razorback luck ran out in the 77th minute when a Memphis attack down the right side led to a pass just outside the six-yard box. Nearly wasting too much time before the Arkansas defense collapsed on her position, Harumi Someya was barely able to get her shot off that went into the far right side of the net to tie the game at one.

The heat wore on both sides as the game went into overtime and the level of play broke down considerably. Each team was able to make runs at the opposition’s goals, but the effort left little on the ensuing shots or the defense was able to win the ball back for its team. That was until the 107th minute when Memphis’ Melissa Smith fired a shot from 24 yards that sailed into the upper right side of the goal just out of the reach of Arkansas’ goalkeeper, ending the game with just 3:22 left on the clock.

The Lady Razorbacks head to the road on Wednesday evening for a mid-week game with Oral Roberts Univ., in Tulsa, Okla. For more information regarding University of Arkansas soccer or about Lady Razorback athletics, visit LADYBACKS.com.