Wildcats soccer continues undefeated streak
Arizona soccer continued their undefeated run in 2013 with a win and draw over the weekend, which improved its record to 3-0-1.
Sunday afternoon’s game in Columbus, Ohio was a defensive struggle when the Wildcats tied No. 24 Ohio State 0-0 after double overtime. The Wildcats are off to their best start since 2008.
“I cannot say enough about our team’s effort tonight,” head coach Tony Amato said. “The heart we showed from start to finish is something to be proud of, especially after playing Friday and traveling here. I know our team loves to compete and they once again expressed their desire to be successful.”
Both teams created plenty of opportunities for themselves, with Arizona outshooting Ohio State 17-16, but neither team was able to take advantage. Senior forward Jazmin Ponce led the Wildcats with seven shots, three of them on goal.
Brian Valencia / Arizona Daily Wildcat Emily Lai dribbles past two UC Riverside defenders on Friday. Lai is from Tucson, Ariz.
Ohio State (3-0-1) used two goalkeepers. Rachel Middleton started and then was replaced by Jillian McVicker. Wildcat junior goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman finished with seven saves against the Buckeyes to earn the shut out.
The tie continued Ohio State’s program record, going back to last season, of 15 games without a defeat.
On Friday, in the Wildcat’s home opener at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium, Arizona scored plenty against UC Riverside, rolling 6-0.
The Wildcats scored early and often against the overmatched Highlanders, with three goals in each half and outshot them 16-6 overall.
Junior defender Mykaylin Rosenquist was the first to get Arizona’s offense going, scoring the game’s opening goal and her first of the season in the ninth minute off a well-placed corner kick from fellow junior Alexandra Doller.
One of freshman midfielder Jaden DeGracie’s “flip” throw-ins was off target for any of her teammates to get on the end of in the penalty box but a Highlander defender misplayed the ball and it ended up in the back of the net for an own goal with about 10 minutes left in the half.
Seconds later, sophomore forward Hannah Wong pitched in with goal of her own, again set up by DeGracie’s unique throw in technique, making it 3-0 Wildcats at halftime.
“It was surreal,” DeGracie said. “We put in the hard work all summer and as a team we’re very united. Coming out with a win is unbelievable.”
The second half was more of the same for Arizona. Doller started off the half with her third goal of the young season followed by the first career goals from freshman Justene Kesterson and Haley Silverberg.
Silverberg’s goal was especially impressive as she chipped the ball over Highlander goalkeeper Nicole Ragano from outside the 18 yard box. The Wildcats limited UC Riverside to six shots with only three on goal.
“For the team to carry out the game plan and have six different people score goals and get the shutout, there’s so many positives to build off of,” Amato said. “It’s exciting for us, and we’re very happy with the progress we’re making.”
With her two shutouts over the weekend, Kaufman already has three in four games played on the season. In 2012, Arizona finished with only four shutouts in 20 games.
The Wildcats will be traveling north this week to take on Kansas and Illinois on Friday and Sunday, respectively, at the Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
Follow Brian Peel @BrianPeel91