Arizona soccer: Wildcats lose 3-1 to Pepperdine in season opener

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Zi Yang Lai | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona soccer's Gabi Stoian chases after a ball in the Wildcats' match against Pepperdine on Sept. 13, 2015. For the second straight year, the Waves beat the Wildcats.

The Arizona soccer team didn't get the payback it was hoping for.

Seeking to avenge last season’s home loss to Pepperdine, the 20th-ranked Wildcats arrived in Malibu, California hoping to return the favor. But the Waves cruised to a 3-1 victory on Friday afternoon at Tari Frahn Rokus Field.

Arizona jumped out to an early lead, but Pepperdine took advantage of a young Arizona defense and scored three unanswered goals en-rout to the win.

"We never got going in the second half and Pepperdine took advantage, and we couldn't get back in the game," Arizona head coach Tony Amato told Arizona Athletics after the game.

With seniors Laura Pimienta and Haley Silverberg limited with injuries, Amato started three newcomers on defense — junior college transfer Brandi Park and freshmen Samantha Falasco and Brynn Moga — and the Waves had no problem creating scoring chances.

Lexe Selman-Richards put Arizona up 1-0 in the 22nd minute, but it was all Pepperdine from there.

Just eight minutes after Selman-Richards’ goal, the Waves knotted things at 1-1.

Rylee Baisden launched a free kick toward the far post where it was knocked in by Nicole Leggio through traffic for the equalizer.

In the 59th minute, Baisden — chasing after a through ball — somehow fought her way past two Wildcat defenders and skipped a shot past Arizona freshman goalkeeper Meredith Reinhardt.

Reinhardt, making her collegiate debut, was given the starting nod after sophomore goalkeeper Lainey Burdett missed the trip due to an illness.

Reinhardt allowed all three goals, but did record four saves.

In the 65th minute, Leggio tapped in a cross from Baisden, tacking on one final insurance goal for the Waves.

Leggio, also playing in her first collegiate game, finished with two goals and an assist, while Baisden had one goal and two assists.

The Waves were actually outshot by the Wildcats 15-11, but it was nullified by the stellar play of Pepperdine goalkeeper Hannah Seabert.

Seabert made eight saves and just one of Arizona’s 15 shots got past her.

It’s the first time Arizona has lost its season opener since Amato became the program’s head coach in 2013.

The Wildcats will look to bounce back on Sunday night when they’ll host Utah Valley. Kickoff at Mulcahy Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.

"We will work to fix the breakdowns we had today and play a better 90 minutes on Sunday," Amato said.


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