No. 15 Arizona travels to California for USC and UCLA
Arizona's Gabi Stoian (9) fights for the ball while playing against Stanford at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 4.
After splitting games with the Bay Area schools, No. 15 Arizona (8-2-1, 2-1) will head to Southern California this weekend to take on UCLA and USC.
“It’s tough,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said of the upcoming trip. “Traditionally, those are two of the better teams in the [Pac-12 Conference] and we’re going on the road.”
The Bruins, as Amato noted, are typically one of the best teams in the Pac-12 Conference. They went 21-1-2 last season and won the Pac-12 with a 10-0-1 conference record. Two seasons ago, they were NCAA Champions.
However, they have had a down year so far this season and are currently 5-6 overall and 1-2 in conference play. They beat Oregon 1-0 at home in their Pac-12 opener, but then were swept by the Washington schools last weekend.
UCLA’s soccer program has never had a losing season—or won fewer than 10 games—but this year’s team could be the first do so.
A major reason is the Bruins have not been strong on either side of the ball.
Last year, their offense led the Pac-12 in goals (68) and was second in shots taken (451). This season, however, the Bruins are second to last in the conference in shots and have scored just 13 goals in 11 games, which is the third worst mark in the Pac-12.
Teams have struggled to score against Arizona this season as the Wildcats have only given up seven goals, tied for the lead in the conference. So the Bruins may have a hard time scoring in this game.
UCLA’s defense has significantly regressed from a season ago as well. The Bruins gave up only six goals in the entire 2014 season, while recording 19 shutouts, but they’ve already given up 16 goals this season, which is tied for the most in the conference. Arizona is second in the conference in goals scored (21), so look for the Wildcats to take advantage of UCLA’s porous defense.
That game will kick off at 7 p.m. tonight.
The Wildcats will face USC (7-4-1, 2-1) after UCLA. The Trojans received five votes in the latest NSCAA National Poll, which puts them right outside the top 25.
USC is comparable to Arizona; it creates a lot of shots and does a good job of keeping opponents off the scoreboard. The Trojans are third in the conference in shots taken (194) and have allowed only eight goals.
While USC’s offense does manufacture plenty of shots, it has had trouble getting them into the net. The Trojans are just ninth in the conference in goals with 14. They did manage to score three goals in their lone matchup against Arizona last season, however.
The matchup with USC will start Sunday at 3:30 p.m., and can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.
Arizona is set up for another tough weekend, which is a common theme in the deep Pac-12. USC is nearly a top-25 team and while UCLA hasn’t been as good as it normally is, the Bruins still pose an extremely dangerous threat.
“It’s another challenge that we’re going to have to embrace and pour the effort in just like we did [last] weekend, or we won’t get results,” Amato said.
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