Andrew Joseph is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Arkansas soccer to host Grambling in NCAA Tournament opener
A soccer ball is shown, Sunday, August 28, 2022 during a soccer match at Razorback Field in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/220829Daily/ for today's photo gallery...(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas soccer program is a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and is scheduled to host Grambling in the opening round Friday at 6:30 p.m.
It matches the highest seed the Razorbacks (14-4-2) have received in program history.
Grambling (15-4-4) won the SWAC regular-season championship as well as the conference tournament.
Texas A&M was a common opponent for the teams this season. The Razorbacks defeated the Aggies 1-0 on Sept. 24 in College Station, Texas, less than three weeks after Grambling lost 8-0 on the same field.
Colby Hale admitted to not knowing much about Grambling after Monday's announcement of the matchup, but is aware of the challenges surrounding play in the postseason.
“Everyone you play at this time of year is good, so you have to be at your best and play well,” Hale said.”
For the seventh time in eight seasons, the Razorbacks are entering the NCAA Tournament after a loss in the SEC Tournament final. Hale joked his team is in familiar territory heading another NCAA Tournament matchup after an SEC championship loss.
He also denounced the SEC Tournament’s setup and importance.
“The conference tournament is stupid,” Hale said. “Three games in six days is not how soccer is supposed to be played. Nobody else does that and there is a reason they don’t do that. They need to change the format.”
Arkansas forwards Anna Podojil and Morgan White suffered injuries Sunday. White is expected to be available Friday, but Podojil’s status is still unknown, Hale said.
Podojil went down with a non-contact injury in the 75th minute against Georgia and did not return. She was shown on the sideline with an ice pack wrapped around her left knee.
The Razorbacks’ side of the bracket includes several familiar foes including LSU, Notre Dame, Memphis, Ohio State and Florida State. Arkansas tied LSU and Notre Dame this year, and defeated Memphis and Ohio State during the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
If the top seeds win out, Arkansas would get a rematch with top-seeded Florida State in the Elite Eight. The Seminoles knocked out the Razorbacks in 2022 before losing to North Carolina at the College Cup.
As a No. 2 seed, the Razorbacks could host three games if they win in the first and second rounds. Arkansas owns a 31-game unbeaten streak at Razorback Field, dating to 2021.
“We’re confident in our ability to go on the road and try to win some games, but our home-field advantage is one of the best in the country,” Hale said.
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