Arkansas eliminates Florida from SEC tourney

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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Arkansas’ Anna Podojil scored two second-half goals and Florida couldn’t overcome defensive mistakes Thursday to fall 3-1 to the top-seeded Razorbacks in the semifinals of the SEC soccer tournament.

Arkansas (15-2-2) will play South Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday for the title. USC (15-1-3) ousted Vanderbilt 2-0 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

Senior Vanessa Kara scored the fifth-seeded Gators’ lone goal to cut the deficit to 2-1 at the 63-minute mark in the second half. Florida (11-8-1) made an error on defense to allow Podojil to intercept a pass and beat the Gator goalie with a long kick.

Kara’s 10th goal came as a result of a penalty kick that awarded when Florida’s Sammie Betters was fouled on a drive along the end line.

Florida now awaits if it will receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship bracket will be announced Monday.

“I was actually happy with the amount of offensive opportunities that we created. Got to have a little more composure and finish those. For sure that would change the complexion of the game,” Florida coach Becky Burleigh said.

Stefani Doyle scored at the 41-minute mark of the first half to put Arkansas, the regular-season champs, up 1-0 at the break.

The Gators outshot the Razorbacks 20-9, including a 9-6 shots-on-goal advantage, but couldn’t find the scoring touch in Thursday’s run of play.

The 64-team NCAA tourney field will be revealed at 4:30 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.

“I think we’ve done enough to get a NCAA bid. It now turns to recovering from this tournament, building some momentum into the week and play where ever they tell us – home or away,” Burleigh said.