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.
New year, familiar result for Arkansas in soccer opener
Arkansas' Parker Goins (22) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second half of a game against LSU on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ soccer team continued its dominance of the SEC West on Saturday at Razorback Field.
The Razorbacks defeated LSU 2-0 in the first game of an eight-game, conference-only schedule for both teams. The game also served as the first by any team on the UA campus since the coronavirus outbreak shut down college sports more than six months ago.
Arkansas extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games against teams from its division dating to 2018. The Razorbacks have won the last eight against SEC West opponents, including six by shutout.
Earlier this week SEC coaches tabbed Arkansas as the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champion.
“There’s a lot to work on, but overall we’ve got a good group,” Arkansas coach Colby Hale said. “We didn’t love the performance and it wasn’t to our standards, but it’s the first game, and it’s the first time in our history that we’ve played a conference, meaningful game with no preseason games, no run-in games. We normally have some time to get into this. All factors, I’m proud of them.”
Arkansas 2, LSU 0
Records: Arkansas 1-0; LSU 0-1
Goals: Reagan Swindall, Arkansas (35’); Parker Goins, Arkansas (56’)
Assists: Haley VanFossen, Arkansas (35’); Ava Tankersley, Arkansas (56’)
Shots: Arkansas 20; LSU 11
Shots on Goal: Arkansas 9; LSU 3
Notable: At least 22 LSU players and staff members knelt for the pregame playing of the national anthem, while six LSU personnel — appearing to all be players — stood. All of Arkansas’ personnel appeared to stand for the anthem….Artificial crowd noise was piped in over the stadium speakers to supplement the sound from the announced crowd of 289. Ticket sales were limited to about 20% of stadium capacity due to covid-19 protocols….Arkansas improved to 19-1-2 on its home field since the start of the 2018 season.
Up Next: Arkansas is scheduled to play at Kentucky on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 5 p.m.
Arkansas had several scoring chances beyond its two goals, which were scored by Reagan Swindall in the 35th minute and Parker Goins in the 56th minute.
The Razorbacks’ pressing defense kept the ball on the LSU side of the field for much of the contest. Arkansas out-shot the Tigers 20-11, including 9-3 on goal. The Razorbacks had nine corner kicks.
LSU’s had a chance to take the lead in the 22nd minute when Rammie Noel got behind the Arkansas defense and Razorback goalkeeper Alexis Bach got out of position away from the net. Noel’s open-net attempt banged off the right post, though, to keep the game scoreless.
The Razorbacks were the aggressors from there. In the minutes before Swindall’s go-ahead goal late in the first half, Arkansas had a goal called off in the 25th minute for being offside, and Ava Tankersley’s open look from about 18 yards was wide right in the 34th minute.
Swindall’s goal was set up after a yellow card against LSU’s Wasila Diwura-Soale, who took down Caroline Campbell from behind. That set up a free kick for Arkansas senior defender Haley VanFossen in front of the Tigers’ bench, just inside midfield. VanFossen sailed the ball 55 yards to just in front of the net, and Swindall, a sophomore, redirected it with her hip for her fourth career goal.
“That’s almost like a play that we practice,” VanFossen said. “Reagan just did her job really well. I over kicked it, so I’m really glad she got on the end of that. It was just a beautiful goal.”
Arkansas led 1-0 at halftime and had several chances to extend the lead early in the second half. LSU’s Mollee Swift had two saves in the first seven minutes after halftime, and Tankersley’s header went off the left post in the 56th minute.
The Razorbacks regained possession moments later and Tankersley’s cross from the right side set up a Goins one-timer from about 12 yards in the middle of the box to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead. It was the 21st career goal for Goins, a senior who ranks 11th in career goals at Arkansas and ninth with 64 career points.
“The first 20 minutes or so of the second half I thought were really good,” Hale said.
LSU had a chance to end the shutout in the 87th minute, but Shannon Cooke’s penalty kick against Arkansas goalkeeper Taylor Beitz went off the crossbar. Beitz replaced Bach in net at halftime.
Beitz and Bach have battled to replace departed All-SEC goalkeeper Katie Lund, who started a school-record 13 shutouts last season.
Hale said it was planned to play both goalkeepers against LSU. Beitz had three second-half saves and Bach didn’t face a shot on goal.
“I thought they were fantastic,” Hale said. “They didn’t have tons and tons to do, but the things they did, they did well.”
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