Allen scores game winner as Arkansas wins NCAA tourney debut 2-1
STILLWATER, Okla. -- In its NCAA tournament debut, Arkansas posted a 2-1 win against Oklahoma State in first-round action Friday night at Cowgirl Soccer Complex.
A fast-paced, physical first half would leave Arkansas (14-8) and Oklahoma State (9-7-6) battling, but the Razorbacks struck in the 33rd minute with a goal by Lindsey Mayo to give Arkansas a 1-0 lead. Claire Kelley sent a ball into the box, and it was settled by Mayo at the near post. Mayo turned and sent it far post to put the Razorbacks up 1-0.
Oklahoma State came out in the second half striking and looking to take control as a goal by Madison Mercado tied the game at 1-1 in the 48th minute.
“We knew Oklahoma State would come out firing, and they did.” Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said. “We gave up an early goal but we said no matter if something bad or good happens, it all starts from fresh. We just keep fighting and good things happen.”
The Razorbacks answered in the 69th minute as a foul on Mercado gave Arkansas a free kick just inside Razorback territory. Tyler Allen sent the ball in, cruising over the heads of Oklahoma State defenders and into the goal. The Razorbacks took a 2-1 lead as the free kick by Allen went untouched.
The Arkansas defense stayed alive through the final minutes of the game, holding off the Cowgirls to go on for the 2-1 lead and picking up the first win in the NCAA tournament in program history.
“It’s a fantastic group,” Hale said. “We go into every game expecting to win. Those girls have so much belief in themselves. As the game goes late and gets tight they believe they’re going to win.”
Arkansas improves to 14-8 and advances to the second round on Nov. 22 to face the either UCF or St. John's (N.Y.).