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George Washington women’s soccer upsets No. 17 Arkansas 1-0

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WASHINGTON (Via George Washington University) – Senior MacKenzie Cowley struck again, scoring her fifth goal in as many games, to lift the GW women’s soccer squad over No. 17 Arkansas, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at the GW Soccer Field on the Mount Vernon Campus.

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In front of an energetic crowd of 512, the Colonials (5-0-0) handed the Razorbacks (5-1-0) their first loss of the year to match a program-best start to the season. The victory marked GW’s first win over a nationally-ranked team since the 1996 squad downed No. 10 Virginia and is the second time in program history that the Buff and Blue have toppled a ranked opponent. The 1996 team went on to make GW’s only NCAA Tournament appearance.

“This was a very challenging game for us and certainly pushed us to our max,” said head coach Sarah Barnes. “We’re going to see that kind of style in conference play, and our goal was to come out and see if we could handle it against top teams in the country and be better prepared for conference, so I think it gives us a tremendous amount of confidence to build on. We have a long way to go, but it certainly gives us confidence.”

Arkansas displayed an aggressive style of play from the start, securing a corner kick and a shot in the third minute of the match, but GW played well under pressure – dismissing threat after threat without damage.

“I thought we did a great job under pressure,” said Barnes. “They are a great team at putting the ball in the box, and really good at winning the first ball, winning the second ball, winning the third ball and keeping it alive play after play after play. We did a great job of making sure we were disciplined the whole time and finishing the play, doing it over and over again, so it was a fantastic effort.”

Cowley tallied GW’s first shot of the day in the 41st minute, but Arkansas’ keeper grabbed the save.

Then in the 43rd minute, senior Kate Elson fired a cross from the right side deep into the box to find Cowley, who came up behind the back of the Arkansas keeper to land a header into the top left half of the net, putting GW on top, 1-0.

The Razorbacks nearly leveled the score just a moment later when Alexandra Fischer hit the post with 50 seconds remaining in the half to preserve GW’s lead at the break.

Arkansas picked up where it left off in the second half, getting off three shots within the first 10 minutes of play. Redshirt junior Miranda Horn tallied a pair of saves and continued to squash threats throughout the remainder of the match with aggressive grabs in the box.

The Colonials nearly added to their lead in the 84th minute, when Cowley issued a laser shot on goal, but Arkansas tipped the ball away as GW went on to clinch the upset, 1-0.

Horn finished with two saves on the day and has not surrendered a goal in 2016.

With her goal on Sunday, Cowley has now found the back of the net in each of GW’s five matches this season – including two consecutive game-winners.

“I think MacKenzie came in very focussed this year,” said Barnes. “She put a lot of work in during the spring and summer to come in and make an even bigger jump for us. I certainly believed and knew she had this capability, and now it’s the experience and putting it all together that’s come full circle. There are going to be times where teams change things up and make it incredibly hard for her, but we have players who can play off her. She has certainly set the tone.”

In a day of firsts, Sunday’s match was televised on Cox Sports TV – GW’s first-ever home televised soccer game. The contest also marked the first-ever meeting between Arkansas and GW.

The Colonials close a three-match homestand on Thursday afternoon when Delaware visits the GW Soccer Field.

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