Arizona soccer continues undefeated streak in Tempe
Arizona soccer remains undefeated in 2013 with a successful weekend up in Tempe, Ariz., at the Sun Devil Classic when the team recorded two draws and improved to 3-0-3 on the season. The Wildcats were involved in two hard fought games on Friday and Sunday, drawing both the Kansas Jayhawks and Illinois Fighting Illini 1-1 with late equalizers. Arizona has now finished with a tie in its last three games.
Sunday’s game against Illinois was a back and forth contest that saw both teams create plenty of opportunities, with the Wildcats outshooting the Illini 18-17. It seemed that Arizona would have a goal lead going into halftime, but its successful corner kick was deemed too late as the whistle for halftime had already blown.
Illinois, coming off a 4-3 double overtime loss to ASU on Friday, was the first to break through with a 64th minute goal from senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, whose shot from 18 yards out slipped through the gloves of Wildcat goalie Gabby Kaufman and into the back of the net.
The Wildcats’ fortune finally turned with about 10 minutes left in regulation when Arizona senior forward Jazmin Ponce scored off a penalty kick in the 82nd minute for her third goal of the season. The penalty kick was awarded when the Illini were called for a handball in their own box as they were attempting to clear the ball out.
The 20-minute overtime period went scoreless with the Illini outshooting the Wildcats, 4-2 in OT.
Kaufman finished with four saves on the day while her counterpart Claire Wheatley made six.
Arizona head coach Tony Amato said he was pleased with his team’s effort, especially considering the deficit they faced as of late.
“Every player worked very hard in the match today,” Amato said. “Illinois is consistently in the NCAA Tournament, and we showed we can compete with players at that level. To come from a goal down late in the game again shows that our players will grind through tough spots.”
Friday night’s game was a similar result when the Wildcats tied the Kansas Jayhawks 1-1 after double overtime, even with Arizona being outshot 26-12 for the game.
Despite a weather delay that lasted a little over an hour, Kansas got the early lead with a 10th minute goal from Jayhawk senior forward Caroline Kastor, who slid the ball past Kaufman.
Even with plenty of shots on goal, neither team was able to score in the next 75 minutes until Wildcat junior forward and Tempe native Alexandra Doller headed in a perfectly hit cross from teammate Ana-Maria Montoya to tie the game at 1-1 and force overtime. The Jayhawks outshot Arizona 8-0 in overtime and were close several times to taking the lead but hit the post twice.
Kaufman was critical in the Wildcats’ comeback effort, finishing with seven saves.
“I am very proud of the resiliency our players showed to grab the late goal and force the match into extra time,” Amato said.
Arizona now heads home to take on Southern Utah and Texas Tech in the Cats Classic Friday and Sunday.
—Follow Brian Peel @BrianPeel91