Soccer defeats Oklahoma State 1-0, advances to NCAA second round
For the first time since 2005, Arizona soccer (11-7-2) was playing in the postseason on Friday afternoon, but rather than be complacent about their accomplishment, the Wildcats defeated the Oklahoma State Cowgirls while simultaneously moving on to the Second Round of the NCAA tournament. In near freezing temperatures, Arizona scored late and walked away with a 1-0 victory in the unfriendly confines of Stillwater, Okla.
The first half of Friday’s tilt was an offensive struggle from both teams with neither the Wildcats nor the Cowgirls putting together anything that was able to consistently threaten the goal. Wildcat Gabi Stoian had the half’s best chance when she hit the crossbar off a free kick from about 35 yards out only minutes into the game. Oklahoma State controlled possession until halftime, but it remained scoreless going into the locker rooms.
After both teams traded good looks at the goal in the second half, but were denied by quality goalkeeping and defending, Arizona finally broke through with just a little over 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
In the 78th minute, Wildcat forward Ali Doller received a pass from Charlotte Brascia close to the goal and shot the ball past Oklahoma State goalkeeper Rosa Medina, who could only get a fingertip on it. For Doller, it was her seventh goal of the season and her third game-winner.
According to the press release, Wildcat head coach Tony Amato had confidence his senior striker would make a play when the team needed her to.
“The thing I’m happiest with is that Doller had some chances and wasn’t able to finish them off,” Amato said. “But she stuck with it. She wasn’t discouraged, she kept putting herself in good positions and she stuck with it. It paid off for her, and that’s what it takes to be a striker at a high level. She’s tough.”
Then, with a late lead, Arizona’s defense and goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman were able to hold off the Cowgirls from finding the equalizer and collected their seventh shutout of the season and first since early October.
“I thought we were really good today,” Amato said. “It was a gutsy performance to come up here. It’s an NCAA tournament match, we were in cold conditions and we were able to perform at a high level. When you combine our performance with the results, you can definitely be very happy.”
Arizona continues its postseason run this Friday when it travels to College Station, Texas, to take on the Texas A&M Aggies for the second time this season. Earlier this season, the Wildcats battled the Aggies to a 2-2 draw at the Sun Devil Classic.
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