Arizona soccer prepares for Northwest teams

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett and Rebecca Marie Sasnett | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona soccer head coach Tony Amato splits the team up into groups during practice at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Sept. 2. Amato and the Wildcats travel to the Washington schools this weekend as they look to add to an already strong season.

Coming off its best weekend against Pac-12 Conference competition in nearly 10 years, Arizona soccer (8-2-1) travels up to the Northwest this weekend to take on Washington State and Washington. This weekend’s games begins a grueling three-game road swing for the Wildcats that sees the squad take on two teams currently ranked in the NSCAA Coaches poll.

Last weekend, the Wildcats came away with two shutouts against the Oregon schools and claimed their first sweep against Pac-12 teams since the 2005 season.

Arizona junior forward Hannah Wong said the team’s chemistry is what has helped the Wildcats get off to such a good start this season.

“We have a great group of players,” Wong said. “They are all good girls, and we all work hard for each other, so I think that’s why we are off to such a great start. It’s our foundation, and that’s what [we] will be doing moving forward as well.”

Friday afternoon’s matchup at 2 p.m. with the Washington State Cougars should be a tough one for Arizona, as the Cougars come into the matchup ranked No. 21 in the country.

So far in 2014, Washington State holds a steady record of 7-1-2 but is coming off a 1-0 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Stanford last weekend. The loss was the first for the Cougars in 15 games, a school record.

Washington State has been winning with defense this season, as the team ranks only 10th in the conference in goals scored with 13 but has only let in three goals all season, good enough for second in the conference.

Offensively, the Cougars have two players with three goals apiece in redshirt junior Beau Bremer and sophomore Kailiana Johnson. WSU goalkeeper Gurveen Clair is third in the conference in shutouts with seven.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., the Wildcats wrap up their Northwest trip when they head to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies.

The Huskies currently sit at 8-4-0 overall and have lost two of their three conference games to start Pac-12 play. Last weekend, the Huskies collected their first conference win of the season when they pulled off a 2-1 upset of then-No. 12 Cal in Berkeley.

When it comes to defense, Washington has been the polar opposite of their rivals in Pullman, as the Huskies have allowed 17 goals, tied for the worst mark in the Pac-12.

Washington has had some success on offense this season, however. Leading the way is senior forward Jaclyn Softli, whose seven goals are tied for seventh best in the conference. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Amanda Perez brings international experience to the Huskies, as she represented Mexico in the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada this past summer.

Wildcat head coach Tony Amato said he sees going on the road as a good thing at this point in the season.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Amato said. “We haven’t been on the road in a while, so I think it’s a great opportunity for us to get away from some of the distractions that can come from being at home and kind of get into a set schedule on the road. We think it’s going to be two really tough contests, but we’ll be up for the challenge.”

Both of the Wildcats’ matchups this weekend will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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