Arizona soccer: Wildcats fall to Utah, extending their losing streak to four games
When it rains it pours, and it was true in more ways than one for the Arizona soccer team on Sunday afternoon.
As a torrential downpour started to fall at Mulcahy Stadium, Utah's Hailey Skolmoski ran past the Wildcats' backline and dove head-first, knocking in a cross for the game-winning goal in the Utes' 2-1 win over the Wildcats, effectively extending Arizona's losing streak to four games.
Skolmoski scored both of Utah's goals, erasing what was an early 1-0 lead for the Wildcats.
“I thought we got off to a good start," Arizona head coach Tony Amato said after the game. "We created some chances, got the goal, and put ourselves in a good position. We had a couple other chances that we didn’t score then they kind of got back in the game as it went on and started to find their way a little bit more and they found a way to get the goal and win it.”
Arizona took the lead in the 11th minute, when midfielder Gabi Stoian hit a through ball to Paige Crouch, who was making a run forward. As Utah goalkeeper July Mathias came forward at Crouch, Crouch placed it into the left side of the net to put the Wildcats on top.
And here's how Arizona took a 1-0 lead against Utah in the 11th minute — a goal from Paige Crouch on a through ball from Gabi Stoian pic.twitter.com/QhuSwPHxLa— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapireUA) October 3, 2016
“Gabi did a great through ball and I was like 'I gotta get this in the back of the net,'” Crouch said. "So I tried to go far post to the corner and it worked out in our favor.”
The Wildcats have scored first in every match but one this season, but, for the third time in the last four games, the team's early lead didn't hold up.
20 minutes after Crouch's goal, Utah answered with an equalizer.
A foul in the box set up a penalty kick for Skolmoski, but it wasn't Skolmoski's initial shot that tied things up. Arizona goalkeeper Lainey Burdett guessed correctly on the penalty kick, diving to her left to make the save.
However, Arizona's defense failed to clear the ball afterward and Skolmoski was able to score from point-blank off an assist from Katie Rogers.
Skolmoski's shot was weakly kicked, but it deflected off an Arizona defender into the net.
"I really can’t tell you what happened, because I thought I was coming to get it and the next thing I know it’s in the back of net,” Burdett said. "I think it was an own goal because there were a bunch of [our] players in the box and I think only like two of Utah’s."
Burdett's save went for naught.
“It was a bummer because I came up big and saved the PK and then the next thing you know it’s in the back of the net,” she said.
The score remained 1-1 until late in the second half when Skolmoski delivered again to put Utah up 2-1 in the 71st minute.
Battling the pouring rain and the Utah defense, the Wildcats made their last effort to get their second goal and tie things up, but to no avail.
"It was a factor there for 10 to 15 minutes where it was raining pretty hard and it's hard to find your footing," Amato said. "Where it impacts us the most is that we can't do the long-throw because the ball is so wet and the ground is soft...so [the rain] definitely impacted [the game] from that point on."
Despite being outshot 17-10, Utah was able to hold off the Wildcats and pull off the road victory.
The Wildcats drop to 5-5-1 on the season and have yet to win a Pac-12 Conference game, as their conference record now stands at 0-3.
Amato is interested to see how his team responds from its recent losing skid when it travels to Pullman, Washington next Thursday to take on Washington State.
"[It's] easy to be positive and mentally strong and a great teammate and to listen to coaching when you win four straight or when you're in the Sweet Sixteen," Amato said. "How you do when you lose four straight or things aren't going your way, that's a true test right there that we'll have to see where we're at."
And Amato didn't understate how important it is for his team to get back into the win column.
"We gotta win the next game," he said. "Every game it feels pressure-filled... and we feel the same now."
Thursday night's match in Pullman is set to start at 7 p.m.
Like Arizona, Washington State is 5-5-1 overall and winless in its first three conference games.
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All video courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks