Stoian, Wildcats head to Riverside for clash with the Highlanders

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Zi Yang Lai | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona soccer head coach Tony Amato talks to the team before their loss against Pepperdine on Sunday, Sept. 13.

After coming away winless in the Arizona Cats Classic last weekend, Arizona women’s soccer will look to recover this weekend when the team hits the road to play the University of California, Riverside Highlanders for the first time ever.

The game will be tonight at 7 p.m. UC Riverside is 4-4 this season and 2-1 at home.

The Highlanders, like Arizona, have an offense that manufactures plenty of scoring chances. In eight games, UC Riverside has taken 109 shots and has a shot on goal percentage of .523. The team has also scored 12 goals and taken 54 corner kicks—23 more than it has allowed their opponents.

The Highlanders’ offense is led by seniors Alexa Bustamante and Tyler Cunningham. Bustamante has three goals and two assists this season, while Cunningham has three goals, an assist and a staggering 24 shots. Cunningham was named to the Big West’s preseason All-Conference Team.

UC Riverside’s high-octane offense will clash with an Arizona defense that has been stout this season. The Wildcats are only allowing an average of seven shots per game and have given up just three goals. However, the Wildcats did have a defensive breakdown against Pepperdine that led to the decisive goal in the game.

A team like UC Riverside could certainly take advantage of another breakdown like that, and Arizona soccer head coach Tony Amato knows that the team will need to get prevent breakdowns like that in the future.

“You can’t give up goals like that,” he said. “So we’ll have to clean that up in the final 30 yards and make sure we don’t give up goals.”

The game against UC Riverside is also the last non-conference game that the Wildcats will play before getting into their strenuous Pac-12 Conference schedule.

The Pac-12 is loaded as usual this season. Four Pac-12 teams are currently ranked in the top 25—Stanford, Cal, ASU and Washington. Five others—Arizona, USC, UCLA, Washington State and Oregon State—have received votes and are just outside the top 25.

There will often be times where Arizona is playing two ranked teams in the same weekend.

For this reason, it’s important for the Wildcats to beat UC Riverside and build some momentum before things really get tough.

Amato has previously said that, as great as the 5-0 start was, it can quickly be erased if the Wildcats don’t continue their high level of play.

This game will be a good chance for Arizona to get back to their winning ways.

Amato is confident that the team will do just that.

“I think the empty feeling we have today from not getting to finish will come out in training this week, and we’ll be ready … to find a way to get a result on the road, and that’ll set us up to come back home and start conference play,” he said after the loss to Pepperdine.


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