Arizona soccer takes Northern California trip
Arizona soccer travels to the Bay Area this weekend to take on a pair of ranked and unbeaten teams in what will likely be the Wildcats’ toughest two game stretch of the season.
The Wildcats (5-2-3) open with No. 2 Stanford on Friday before traveling down to Berkeley to face No. 11 California on Sunday.
Last weekend, Arizona opened its Pac-12 season with a 2-1 loss to then No. 4 UCLA 2-1 at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium. It was the Wildcats’ second loss in three games and already the third ranked team they have faced on the year.
After dropping the game to the Bruins, Arizona is still winless against ranked teams this season at 0-2-1, with plenty more opportunities to have a breakthrough, starting this weekend.
Keenan Turner/The Daily Wildcat
Even with the difficult gauntlet the Wildcats face in the coming weeks, senior midfielder Shannon Heinzler said every team they go up against is its own test no matter what they are ranked.
“We take into account what teams are ranked and how high caliber they are but we still prepare every game the same way,” Heinzler said. “We work on what our weaknesses are to get ready for whoever we face in the next game.”
Friday afternoon’s game against the Stanford Cardinal (8-0-1) matches up the two most proficient offenses in the Pac-12 with the Wildcats and Cardinal tied at the top of the conference standing in goals scored with 24 apiece. Stanford is coming off a 2-0 victory at Colorado last weekend, a game in which the Cardinal needed two second half goals to secure the win.
The Cardinal are led by junior forward Taylor Uhl whose nine goals are second best in the Pac-12. Uhl started her career at Minnesota where she finished first in the country in goals scored last season with 21 before transferring to Stanford this fall.
Uhl is flanked by forwards Courtney Verloo and Chioma Ubogagu, who have combined to score seven goals to go along with Uhl’s nine to make up one of the deadliest fronts in the country.
Freshmen goalkeeper Jane Campbell was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for her performance against Colorado.
The game will be televised on the Pac-12 network.
The Wildcats’ defense won’t catch much of a break on Sunday when they take on the Cal Golden Bears (7-0-3) who are just behind the Cardinal and Wildcats in scoring with 23 goals of their own this season. Cal started its Pac-12 season with a scoreless draw last Friday at Utah before a dominating 3-0 non-conference victory over San Francisco to close the weekend.
Sophomore forward Ifeoma Onumonu, who was a first-team All-Pac-12 performer last season, leads the Golden Bears in goals with seven. Three other Cal players have scored at least three goals so far this season, creating a balanced attack for the Golden Bears.
Wildcats head coach Tony Amato says the team is excited for the challenge this weekend.
“We are looking forward to it,” Amato said. “We have some confidence coming off the UCLA game even though we didn’t get the win. If we have a good approach and mentality going into this weekend, we think we can get a surprising result and play well.”
—Follow Brian Peel @BrianPeel91