Arkansas (13-3-5) will be making a return trip to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight after Sunday’s thrilling winning over Memphis via a 3-2 penalty kick advantage at Razorback field.
Goalkeeper Grace Barbara clinched the win with a diving save a Tigers’ attempt in a game that ended 3-3 in regulation and then was scoreless in 20 minutes of overtime.
The Razorbacks’ win left them unbeaten in 22 straight home matches and earned them a date on Saturday at 4 p.m. with No. 1 Florida State (16-2-3) in Tallahassee, Fla.
“First of all, what a team, huh? Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said. “Memphis was tremendously tough, we got up and they came back three different times. So you have got to give it up for them. I know it is their first Sweet 16 and I am really impressed with them.
“We talked about these game kind of being a microcosm of this team. Might have been a little up and down, but in the end, they found a way to win. I couldn’t be more proud of them and we are moving on.
“We will take a a couple of days and get some rest and then get ready to take on a very good Florida State team.”
Senior Jessica De Filippo scored a pair of goals in the first half to put Arkansas up 2-0 to give her 12 for the season and six so far in the NCAA Tournament.
But Memphis rallied to tie it with a pair of goals in the final five minutes of the before the break.
Freshman Zoe Susi gave the Razorbacks a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes left in regulation only to see Memphis’ Maya Jones send it into overtime with a late tally.
Emilee Hauser, freshman Taylor Berman and backup goalkeeper Sierra Cota-Yarde netted their penalty kicks for Arkansas while Barbara saved three of Memphis’ attempts.
“Grace was tremendous,” Hale said. “She even saved the one that they made and they called it back. But she saved three or four of them. If the keeper saves more than one, you probably win and she did a great job.”
Arkansas, which outscored it opponents 14-5 in NCAA Tournament play, blanked Missouri State 6-0 on Friday while Memphis was upsetting Duke.
“I think I gained like 10 years,” Hale said of the emotional toll of the game. “But this is what NCAA Tournament is and why you came here – to play in big games against great teams in high stakes.”
Photo courtesy of Arkansas