Relentless offense lifts injury plagued Wildcats past Oregon State
Arizona defender Hayley Estopare (23) knocks a header into the goal for the Wildcats' first of two scores during their win over Oregon State on Sunday, Oct. 25 on Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium. Estopare is second on the team in goals with four, trailing only Gabi Stoian with six.
Arizona women’s soccer looked to complete the weekend sweep of the Oregon schools against Oregon State on Sunday and it got the job done with a 2-1 win over the Beavers at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium.
It was a bitter sweet win for Arizona as Stoian, the team’s leading scorer, was injured midway through the first half and hobbled off the field with the help of trainers.
She didn’t return to the game but came out to the sideline in the second half with an ice wrap around her right leg, though Arizona head coach Tony Amato didn’t seem too concerned about it.
“It looks like Gabi tweaked her quad and we just didn’t want to chance it down the stretch,” he said.
The Wildcats controlled almost the entire first half as they outshot the Beavers 8-1.
The Wildcats had their first legitimate chance in the 21st minute when a cross from Paige Crouch went to Hannah Wong in the box, but Wong was unable to put the ball on net.
Gabi Stoian used some nifty footwork a few minutes later to create space near the top of the box, but her shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Despite having just a single shot in the first half, Oregon State made it count when in the 32nd minute, Toni Malone was able to deflect a pass past Arizona goalkeeper Lainey Burdett for the game’s first goal.
“I thought it was going to be a through ball so I … didn’t get set and I think it deflected off of Laura [Pimienta] and it just happened to go in the near post,” Burdett said of the score.
The Wildcats would go into the half down a goal and without their best player, but Amato was still happy with the team’s play.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” he said. “They had one opportunity that kind of came out of nothing. We got a little more loose defensively than I would have wanted and sometimes that happens. We were on the front foot so much and were dictating what was happening in the game that we just got a little loose defensively and it cost us.”
The Wildcats continued their dominance and relentless offense in the second half. Hayley Estopare scored the game’s equalizer in the 52nd minute off of a flip throw from Jaden DeGracie.
“Those are probably one of my favorites because I get to go run fly at the ball,” Estopare said. “I knew I needed to make a connection with it and hit it as hard as I could into the left corner.”
It was her third goal of the season while DeGracie recorded her fourth assist of the season and the 16th of her career. She’s now second on Arizona’s all-time assists list.
Charlotte Brascia ran forward with the ball just minutes after Estopare’s goal and found herself wide open in the box after her defender fell down trying to knock the ball away from her.
Brascia capitalized on the miscue and was easily able to get her shot past the goalie for the go-ahead goal. She was later forced to leave the game after taking a hit to the head and did not return.
“[Brascia] took a knock to the head and you always have to be careful with [that],” Amato said. “So we’ll diagnose her more tomorrow with the doctor and take it from there.”
The Wildcats defense, which held Oregon State to just four shots all game, was able to give Arizona its third win in a row.
“Coach was working with us on just always shifting … and making sure we were staying man-marked,” Burdett said of the defense’s standout performance. “I think that really helped us in the end to stay organized and keep them out of the goal.”
Amato thought his team struggled in Friday’s win against Oregon and so its bounce-back performance against Oregon State was encouraging.
“I thought we were reactive on Friday and not necessarily dictating any portions of the game … and today was the total opposite,” Amato said. “We were pushing the tempo, we were in control of a lot of the game and not reactive at it, so it was a huge improvement from Friday, which is what we’re looking for.”
The Wildcats, who are now 11-4-1 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 Conference play, will look to continue their winning streak on the road against Colorado and Utah next weekend.
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