No. 25 Arizona soccer defeats No. 21 Washington 1-0 on DeGracie goal
No. 25 Arizona soccer team beat No. 21 Washington 1-0 in the team’s Pac-12 conference opener.
“It’s great,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said following the victory. “Anytime you play a top-25 team, a top 10 RPI team, and get the win, you’re going to have to work hard, you’re going to have to have good team spirit, and you’re going have to make big plays. I thought we did all of those things tonight.”
The first half was fairly even as both teams had a few opportunities to score.
In the second minute, a dangerous shot was taken by Washington’s Rachel Wheeler off of a cross, but Arizona keeper Rachel Estopare was in perfect position to make an acrobatic save.
In the eighth minute, Arizona had an opportunity at the top of the box for an open shot, but Jaden DeGracie mishit the ball, and it went well wide.
In the 29th minute, Gabi Stoian created space and took a powerful shot, but it went right to the goalkeeper.
Washington answered back with a threat of their own in the 44th minute. Rachel Wheeler had another shot opportunity, and this time her shot got past Estopare, but luckily for Arizona, it clanked off the post and the Wildcats were subsequently able to clear it away.
“You got to catch a break here or there and they hit the crossbar and we missed some chances,” Amato said about the first half.
The half came to a close with no score. Washington finished with six shots, while Arizona had four.
The Wildcats’ offense came out strong in the second half, however.
In the 47th minute, a shot from Arizona’s Charlotte Brascia was deflected by UW’s goalie, and off the deflection it hit the post and the keeper was able to recover it.
However, just five minutes later, Arizona scored the game’s lone goal.
The ball bounced around after a corner kick from Gabi Stoian, and finally Brascia was able to control it and find a wide open Jaden DeGracie who drilled it into the top right corner of the net.
“The ball was bouncing around a lot in the box off a set piece. I was just trying to stay open and get off my player who was marking me, and then Charlotte [Brascia] went for the header, and then got it, but it bounced down, then it got kicked back up again, and then she saw I was wide open, and gave me the most perfect ball,” DeGracie said about the play. “I saw the keeper and the goal, and then I realized I was wide open, and the rest is history. It went into the net.”
Amato was pleased with the way the game turned out.
“Jaden took a great opportunity and put it in the top corner, and games at this level are gonna have to be won that way,” Amato added.
It was DeGracie’s first goal of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.
“It’s amazing. I’m more of an assister, personally, so to score the match’s [game-winning goal], especially in a 1-0 game, it means the world to me,” DeGracie said after the game.
That was the only goal needed as Arizona’s defense clamped down on the Huskies’ offense in the second half to preserve the shutout.
They held the Huskies to just two shots in the final 45 minutes, and eight in the entire game. That’s an impressive feat considering Washington came into this game averaging nearly 16 shots and two goals per game.
“They wanted to get into a rhythm the whole time, and I thought we did a good job of breaking up that rhythm. When they couldn’t get in that rhythm, that limited their chances,” Amato said. “We were grinding, we were heading, we were tackling, we were covering ground, and ultimately you combine all those things and you win games.”
It also helps that Rachel Estopare made some outstanding saves for the Wildcats.
Lainey Burdett has seen most of the action in net for Arizona this season, but Amato gave Estopare the start because of how well she practiced this week.
“Ultimately, Rachel has been really sharp in training. We wanted to reward that, and we got the reward back for the making the call, and she played really well tonight,” Amato said about the keeper.
The Wildcats have now won their last two games, and will look to continue their winning ways at home against top-25 foes Cal and Stanford next weekend.
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