Soccer: Razorbacks fall to No. 1 Penn State

By: STEVE ANDREWS Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, August 26, 2017
Arkansas' Jessi Hartzler (15) and Penn State's Frannie Crouse (9) leap to head the ball Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, during the Razorbacks' 4-2 loss at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Jessi Hartzler (15) and Penn State's Frannie Crouse (9) leap to head the ball Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, during the Razorbacks' 4-2 loss at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A record-breaking crowd was nearly treated to a history-making effort Friday night.

No. 23 Arkansas (1-2-0) was tied with No. 1 Penn State 2-2 early in the second half of its soccer home opener, in front of a raucous crowd of 3,401. But a pair of Nittany Lion goals in the final 35 minutes sent the visitors home with a 4-2 victory.

"Penn State's No. 1 for a reason, I mean they've got world-class players," Razorback coach Colby Hale said. "But at times it just didn't feel like us out there tonight, and that's something we'll have to figure out."

It would have marked the first time in the program's 32-year history that the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville would have defeated a No. 1 team. The Razorbacks made history last season by beating No. 2 Duke 2-1 in its 2016 home opener, but is now 0-3 against top-ranked teams in Hale's six seasons.

"You're definitely not going to draw major conclusions on a game like this," Hale said. "But we have to figure out who we are, and all get on the same page. But those are things that are fixable.

"There were definitely some bright spots, especially in the attack, where we created our chances to score five or six goals."

Arkansas actually jumped out quickly and sent the crowd into a frenzy less than two minutes into match, when sophomore midfielder Stefani Doyle sprinted down the right side of the goal box, took the assist from freshman forward Parker Goins, and put the ball in the back of the net to give the Razorbacks an early 1-0.

"We just wanted to score a goal quickly to get the momentum early, and that first goal was a team effort," Doyle said. "We were able to break it down and the momentum was there, but they are a very good team and were able to come back."

Penn State (3-0-0) tied the score at 1-1 on Charlotte Williams' goal at the 36:10 mark of the first half, then took the lead on a Marissa Sheva goal at 26:59. The teams then held each other scoreless through the intermission.

Hale was pleased with the effort of freshman keeper Rachel Harris, starting just the second match of her career. She recorded one save and had to continuously battle an aggressive Nittany Lion offensive attack.

"She earned the right to be our starter and I think she did fine," Hale said. "We gave up some uncontested shots and defensively we've got to block those. That's something we pride ourselves on and we didn't do it tonight."

Arkansas again struck quickly to begin the second half, knotting the score at 2-2 when freshman midfielder Taylor Malham took an assist from Goins and booted the ball just inside the right goalpost with 43:40 left in the game.

The teams each had 11 shots and five shots on goal in the game. Junior goalkeeper Rose Chandler had three saves for the Nittany Lions.

The Razorbacks will return to action on Sunday as they host Abilene Christian at 1 p.m.

Sports on 08/26/2017

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