FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Senior Tyler Allen’s 35-yard free kick goal in the second overtime period gave the Arkansas women’s soccer team a dramatic 2-1 victory over Kentucky on Friday night in its Southeastern Conference opener.
Just four minutes into the second overtime, Kentucky (5-3-0, 0-1-0 SEC) committed a seemingly harmless foul 35-yards out from the goal. Allen, a free kick specialist, stepped up and delivered the ball from long distance into the upper left corner of the goal to give Arkansas (5-2-2, 1-0-0) its first win in a SEC opener since the 2011 season.
It is the second time this season that Allen has connected from 35-plus yards out for a goal, as she connected on a 40-yard free kick goal in Arkansas’ lone exhibition against Creighton. That goal was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays (No. 6).
The thrilling double overtime contest featured a combined 33 shots, 16 shots on goal, and 13 saves. Both teams had several near missed opportunities inside the 18-yard box as they played to a 1-1 tie in the game’s first 103 minutes. After a night of near misses in front of the goal, it would be Allen’s strike from 35 yards out that proved to be the game winner.
Arkansas and Kentucky played to the tune of a scoreless tie over the first 45 minutes, as both defenses stood tall to limit each other to a combine six shots in the frame (UK 5, Arkansas 1).
The only scoring opportunity for either team in the half came in the 11th minute, as Kentucky’s Stuart Pope took a shot inside the 18-yard box that barely went wide right of the goal.
Arkansas broke the tie just three minutes into the second half with a goal from sophomore Alexandra Fischer.
Junior Ashleigh Ellenwood tossed the ball into the box to sophomore Claire Kelley, who flicked the ball across the six-yard box to an open Fischer. The sophomore took one step and fired a shot into the bottom left of the goal to collect her third score of the season.
The Wildcats had a chance at the equalizer just minutes later, as Pope took a shot that deflected off of sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Carter, but Allen was able to clear the ball off to the sideline before a Kentucky play could get a chance at the deflection.
In the 59th minute Ellenwood had a good chance of scoring her 25th career goal, but after a display of fancy footwork to get open, her left-footed shot would end up in the hands of Kentucky goalkeeper Taylor Braun.
UK scored the tying goal in the 68th minute, as a trio of headers inside the 18 resulted in a Wildcat goal.
Kentucky sent a cross into the box that would bounce off the heads of Arin Gilliland and Pope. The two headers kept the ball in the air long enough for Jade Klump to flick the ball behind Carter. Arkansas had one last chance to clear the ball, but the defense was unable to get a clean strike on the clearance as it rolled into the goal, tying the game at 1-1.
Arkansas survived an aggressive UK attack in the 79th minute, as Kentucky fired off three consecutive shots, but all three resulted in near misses, leaving the game in a 1-1 tie.
The Razorbacks responded with a trio of near misses of their own in the 83rd minute.
Defense played a big role in the final three minutes of the second half, as a pair of spectacular saves by Carter prevented Kentucky from scoring a late goal and sent the game into overtime.
Freshman Nicole Ortega had a chance to seal victory for Arkansas early in the first overtime after collecting an Ellenwood shot that hit off the crossbar. With nothing but teammates around her, Ortega took a shot to the left side of the goal, but Braun was able to make a quick read on the shot and save it.
The Razorbacks again had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of the first overtime, but junior Margaret Power sent a shot that hit the right post and bounced out of the box sending the game to its second overtime.
After a Kentucky foul four minutes into the second extra period, Allen launched a 35-yard free kick and placed it perfectly into the top left corner to score the game-winner for the Razorbacks. The goal was the second tally of the season for Allen.
The win gives Arkansas a 2-0-1 record on the three-game home stand, and keeps them unbeaten (4-0-1) at home.
The Razorbacks will be back in action on Thursday, Sept. 25, as they travel to face SEC foe Ole Miss. Start time for the match is set for 6:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the SEC Network+, which is available on ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN app.