Soccer Falls in Finale to No. 20 Arkansas
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers saw their 2016 season come to an end with a 2-0 home defeat to 20th-ranked Arkansas on Thursday night as Claire Kelley opened the scoring on a free kick in the 14th minute and Kayla McKeon doubled the Razorbacks’ advantage from a corner kick in the 31st minute of play in the first half.
The Tigers (7-11-1, 2-8-1 SEC) saw their 12-game unbeaten streak in the series snapped as they entered Thursday’s finale at 11-0-1 against the Razorbacks (15-4, 8-3) in the regular season from 2004-15.
Kelley put the visitors in front at the 13:34 mark when she curled a 25-yard free kick inside the left post for an early 1-0 advantage with her seventh goal of the season. McKeon doubled Arkansas’ lead to 2-0 by burying a back-post header from Alexandra Fischer’s corner kick for her team-leading eighth goal of the campaign at the 30:30 mark of the first half.
Senior Delaney Sheehan was close to pulling a goal back for the Tigers before the break when she headed a teasing cross into the box by fellow senior Summer Clarke just over the crossbar in the 38th minute. Sheehan was presented the home side’s first opportunity of the second half in the 51st minute after she was played into space at the top of the box by sophomore Alex Thomas for a one-time effort again over the bar.
Clarke followed with LSU’s best chance of the night in the 56th minute when she was played through the Arkansas back line in the left side of the area and cut back for a right-footed strike that whistled just inches wide of the far post from 10 yards out. Clarke and Sheehan matched one another with a team-leading two shots in the 90 minutes.
They were also among four Tigers to be honored during Senior Tribute festivities before kickoff as New Zealand international Megan Lee and England international Ella Williams also made their last appearance.
With the win, the Razorbacks locked up the No. 3 seed in next week’s SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament beginning Monday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Alabama. No. 2-ranked South Carolina won the 2016 SEC regular-season championship with a perfect 11-0 mark and 33 points in conference play, followed by No. 11-ranked Auburn in second place with a 9-2 mark and 27 points on the year.