Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Late goal sinks Arkansas in SEC Championship Game
Arkansas freshman Parker Goins scored four goals during the Razorbacks' win over Abilene Christian on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Arkansas' bid to win its first SEC Soccer Tournament came up short again Sunday.
Texas A&M junior forward Emily Bates scored on a left-footed cross in the 88th minute to give the Aggies a 2-1 win over the Razorbacks in the tournament championship game in Orange Beach, Ala. Texas A&M won the tournament for the third time since joining the SEC.
Arkansas finished runner-up for the second consecutive season and for the fourth time since 1993.
The game was the Razorbacks' fourth in eight days at the tournament. Arkansas, the No. 8 seed, was the first team to play four times at the tournament since it expanded in 2012.
"I thought we played well enough to win the game, but we're not a moral victory team and we didn't win," Arkansas coach Colby Hale said. "It stinks. It's probably one we'll need a day or two to recover from.
"The work they put in was super human, so I'm obviously impressed with that. I'm proud of some stuff, but obviously we came to win."
Bates' goal came seven minutes after Arkansas freshman Parker Goins scored to tie the game 1-1. Goins' team-leading ninth goal of the season was a long left-footed cross that went across a diving attempt by Texas A&M goalkeeper Cosette Morche and into the far top corner of the net.
Arkansas (11-10-2) nearly took the lead minutes later when Taylor Malham had a clean look at the goal with Morche out of position. But Texas A&M defender Briana Alston was able to block the attempt just in front of the goal line.
The Razorbacks were out-shot 11-7, including 6-2 on goal.
The Aggies led 1-0 at halftime after a sliding own goal by Arkansas' Tori Cannata, who was attempting to clear in front of the Razorbacks' goal in the 37th minute. It was the second consecutive game in which Texas A&M benefitted from an own goal, having won a semifinal game against Florida off an inadvertent header by the Gators in overtime.
The Aggies (17-2-1) have won 13 straight games.
"I feel like we always leave it up to the last second," said Texas A&M midfielder Mikaela Harvey, who was named the tournament's most valuable player. "I've never seen a team with so much heart."
The Razorbacks are expected to make the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons when tournament selections are announced Monday. The SEC has had at least six teams in the NCAA field each year since 2011.
"We came together as a team and peaked at the right time," Hale said. "We got some performances that were pretty good. I can't imagine anyone is going to watch that game and think, 'Oh dear God, I hope we get the Razorbacks.'"
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