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Razorbacks kick off SEC play with victory at Tennessee

by Andrew Joseph | September 15, 2023 at 8:54 p.m.
September 3, 2023: Arkansas graduate Anna Podojil (16) score first score during first half against North Carolina. NCAA soccer game between University of Arkansas vs University of North Carolina at Dorrance Field, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. .Special to NWADG/David Beach

A traffic jam was the only thing able to slow down the No. 11 Arkansas soccer team during its 3-1 victory at Tennessee on Friday night.

The game kicked off 45 minutes later than the scheduled 6 p.m. start time. Arkansas’ arrival was delayed by a wreck that stalled the team bus ahead of the flight to Knoxville, Tenn.

The Razorbacks (4-2-1) snapped a two-game losing streak to end a three-game road trip. Bea Franklin carried the visitors with a pair of goals.

Arkansas struck first off a corner kick as Franklin volleyed a rebound from inside the 6-yard box in the 12th minute. Tennessee goalkeeper Ally Zazzara made a diving stop on a header from Anna Podojil, but the deflection landed right at the foot of Franklin.

The Razorbacks squandered a golden opportunity to double their lead in the 25th minute on a breakaway. Senior forward Ava Tankersley stripped the last defender and went 1-on-1 with Zazzara who made a sliding kick save.

Arkansas’ set-piece defense was a liability against the Volunteers, as it has been much of the season. The Volunteers (5-2-1) entered averaging an NCAA-best nine corners per game and scored on their first opportunity.

The Razorbacks had three defenders along the goal line — one on each post and goalkeeper Sierra Cota-Yarde in the middle — but it wasn’t enough. Tennessee’s Renie Lawson won the aerial duel and her powerful header found a gap to tie the game.

The deadlock did not last long as Arkansas regained the lead one minute later. Franklin bagged the second brace of her Razorback career with a header from Kiley Dulaney’s inch-perfect service.

Franklin has scored 11 collegiate goals in five seasons. Nine of them have been headers.

Tennessee made a goalkeeper change at halftime. Zazzara (4 saves) was replaced by freshman Abby Reisz, who did not record a save.

The Razorbacks started slowly in the second half as Tennessee amped up the pressure. The Volunteers registered the first four shots in the frame.

Against the run of play, Sophia Aragon added an insurance goal in the 72nd minute to give Arkansas a 3-1 lead. She raced past the Tennessee backline to connect with a through ball for her third goal of the season.

Tennessee nearly pulled a goal back with five minutes to go. The strike hit the inside of the post before Cota-Yarde swatted the ball off the goal line.

The Volunteers (5-2-1) held a 16-10 shot advantage, but the Razorbacks were more clinical with their attempts. Arkansas put seven shots on frame and Tennessee recorded five.

Arkansas will return home to host Grand Canyon on Sept. 17.


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