Andrew Joseph is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Razorbacks, Tigers carry lengthy streaks into NCAA Tournament
Arkansas' Ava Tankersley is shown during a game against North Carolina on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (David Beach/Special to Hawgs Sports Network)
FAYETTEVILLE — The 10th-ranked Arkansas soccer program has not lost a home game in more than two years.
The last loss at Razorback Field came against Saint Louis in February 2021. Since that defeat, Arkansas has recorded a 31-match unbeaten streak at home.
The Razorbacks have gone 29-0-2 and outscored opponents 102-20 during that stretch. Dating to 2016, Arkansas is 66-9-4 at home, including 10 wins against ranked opponents.
"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," Arkansas coach Colby Hale said.
As a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Razorbacks could host three games if they win in the first and second rounds. The run begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. with a first-round match against Grambling.
The match will be streamed by ESPN+.
Arkansas' home-field advantage has continued to grow as the wins have piled up. Since 2021, Razorback Field has recorded six of the top 10 largest crowds in program history and another big crowd is expected Friday.
The program's single-game attendance record was shattered earlier this year when 3,660 fans witnessed Arkansas' 5-0 victory against No. 9 Alabama on Sept. 21. Hale scheduled a difficult non-conference slate, including matchups against three top-15 teams to prepare his squad for life on the road.
The Razorbacks went 0-2-1 with losses at North Carolina and Clemson, and registered a 2-2 draw at Notre Dame. Arkansas responded with a 6-game winning streak to begin SEC play and won 8 of the last 10 regular-season matches to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Grambling is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. The Tigers (15-4-4) won the SWAC Tournament Championship, went undefeated in conference play and have not lost since Sept. 14 against Louisiana-Monroe.
Texas A&M is the only common opponent for Arkansas and Grambling. Arkansas defeated the Aggies 1-0 and Grambling lost 8-0.
Hale is not putting much stock into the scores.
"[Grambling] has not lost in forever," Hale said. “Everyone you play at this time of year is good, so you have to be at your best and play well."
Arkansas' front-line depth may be put to the test in postseason play after All-America forward Anna Podojil suffered a knee injury during the SEC Tournament Championship. Her status for the NCAA Tournament is unknown, Hale said earlier this week.
Fortunately for the Razorbacks, their attacking depth has been on display for much of the regular season. Arkansas has had 17 different players combine for an SEC-high 50 goals.
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