Wildcats survive on road against UC Riverside due to Stoian's heroic overtime goal

The Arizona women’s soccer team has been no stranger to close games recently, and Friday’s matchup against the University of California, Riverside was no exception. The Wildcats won 2-1 in extra time in Riverside, Calif., to improve to 6-1-1.

Both teams were known for their high-octane offenses coming into Friday night. Arizona was averaging 16.9 shots per game, while the Highlanders were at 13.6.

It was the Wildcats’ offense that got off to the quick start on Friday night, though. Arizona had six shots and three corner kicks within the first 18 minutes of the game. The Wildcats dominated the first half with 12 shots while only allowing the Highlanders to have a single shot of their own.

Despite the shot parade, however, there was no score until the 43rd minute when Hayley Estopare gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead when she knocked in a corner kick assisted by Gabi Stoian at the near post. It was Estopare’s third goal of the season and Stoian’s fifth assist of the year. It would be the only goal in the first half for either team.

The Wildcats nearly took a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute when a header Hannah Wong clanked off the post.

A near 2-0 lead quickly turned into a 1-1 tie when UC Riverside’s Blanca Barrio scored an equalizer off an assist from Tyler Cunningham in the 60th minute.

The Highlanders threatened again shortly after, but Arizona goalkeeper Lainey Burdett made two saves after a UC Riverside corner kick to keep the tie intact. Burdett finished with four saves on the night.

Neither team managed to score another goal in the second half, and Arizona headed to extra time for the second time in three games.

Just four minutes into the first ten-minute extra time period, Stoian put one in the back of the net for the golden goal to give the Wildcats their sixth win of the season.

“The game was intense and I thought our team stepped up as a whole,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said. “You need someone to put the ball in the back of the net and Gabi was able to do that in overtime. It was a hard game and you have to give them a lot of credit. They scored a really good goal, it’s hard to win games and I’m very happy that we won.”

It was Stoian’s fifth goal of the season and the 18th of her career. The sophomore is now tied for fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list.

Tonight’s game was Arizona’s last non-conference opponent on the schedule, and its performance tonight has Amato believing that the team is ready to take on the brutal Pac-12 Conference.

“This team definitely took a big step today,” Amato said. “We learned some good lessons along the way during the non-conference schedule and we will collect all those thoughts with a new season starting this week.”

Arizona will return home for a game against Washington in their Pac-12 season opener Friday at 4 p.m. It will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.

Game notes:

- Sheaffer Skadsen and Hayley Estopare played all 94 minutes tonight. Skadsen has played the entire game in seven of eight games this year, while this was Estopare’s first time playing the entire game.

- The Wildcats outshot the Highlanders 19-8 tonight and are outshooting their opponents 136-57 this season.

- Lainey Burdett played the entire game in net after she and Rachel Estopare each played a half in Sunday’s game against Pepperdine.

- Kaitlyn Lopez made her second appearance of the season after missing the first six games with an injury.

- Gabi Stoian’s game-winning goal was her second of the season and the sixth of her career.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.



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