Ethan Westerman is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has bachelor's degrees in journalism and marketing from the University of Arkansas.
Razorbacks 'take away some positives' after blanking A-State to open soccer season
Arkansas sophomore midfielder Ainsley Erzen celebrates with teammates after scoring the Razorbacks' first goal during a 6-0 victory Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, at Razorback Field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The eighth-ranked Arkansas soccer team opened the 2023 season Thursday on its new grass at Razorback Field by blanking Arkansas State 6-0.
The Razorbacks (1-0) scored four first-half goals and fed off the energy of an announced home crowd of 1,983. Arkansas out-shot the Red Wolves 34-7 and had 16 shots on goal.
Arkansas coach Colby Hale indicated he does not want his team to get too caught up looking at the final score and miss out on areas for improvement. He said it was a good way to kick off the year, though.
“It's early in the season, but there's some details we need to clean up for sure,” Hale said. “But they are details, right? And those things will come. We’ve got a lot of young and new faces out there, and some of the sets aren't super organized, so we’ve got to just clean some stuff up.
“But anytime you beat a good, quality opponent like Arkansas State 6-0, you’re going to take away some positives.”
Sophomore midfielder Ainsley Erzen scored the Razorbacks’ first goal four minutes into the contest. It came after a ricochet off the left goal post on a shot by Avery Wren, which found the right foot of Erzen, a Des Moines, Iowa, native who scored her third career goal.
The Razorbacks got on the scoreboard again six minutes later when Arkansas State (0-1) made an own goal off a free kick.
Arkansas pushed the lead to 3-0 with less than six minutes remaining in the first half when Bea Franklin scored her first non-header goal as a Razorback. Franklin used her right foot and deflected it off a defender to find the bottom left of the net.
Franklin scored five goals on headers last year and once on a header in 2021 in her first season after transferring from Notre Dame.
“I have scored goals with my feet in the spring, so it is possible,” Franklin said with a laugh, “so it isn't like totally astronomical, but it is rare. We were just trying to keep the ball in the box, and I got a nice turn on her and the girl kind of ran in the way and gave me a good deflection.”
Emilee Hauser earned her ninth career assist on Franklin's goal.
It took less than three minutes for the Razorbacks to score again and extend their advantage to 4-0 just before halftime. Freshman midfielder Patricia Tsokos scored her first college goal in the 42nd minute via Margot Reemtsen’s first career assist.
Arkansas struck again in the 54th minute when keeper Sierra Cota-Yarde scored on a penalty kick. Fourteen minutes later the Razorbacks stretched the advantage to 6-0 with a header by Kiley Dulaney in a one-on-one situation with Arkansas State keeper Damaris Deschaine. Makenzie Malham assisted Dulaney's goal.
“We don't want teams to feel like they can catch a breath when we're playing against them at all,” Franklin said. “And the great thing this year is we have many, many girls that are ready to come in and not let the other team out at all, even when our starters get tired. So we definitely love to put the pressure on people.”
Arkansas’ big game was dampened with 17 minutes remaining when sophomore midfielder Ava Furrow went down with a leg injury. She went to the ground yelling and laid in pain for several minutes before being carted away with an air cast on her left leg.
Hale said after the game he had not yet received word on the extent of her injury.
Arkansas improved to 3-0 all-time against Arkansas State by a combined score of 12-2. The Razorbacks defeated Arkansas State 4-1 in their home opener last season.
Arkansas extended its unbeaten streak at home to 23 games. A visiting team has not won at Razorback Field since South Carolina in October 2020.
“It was amazing,” Hale said of the crowd on hand. “It was all the way around, and it was fantastic.
"I mean, our fans are the best. You know, we're tough to play at home, and I thought just the whole night was productive for us.”
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