Arizona soccer: Wildcats look to snap losing streak against the Washington schools

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Zi Yang Lai | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona soccer player Jaden DeGracie-Bailey runs towards the ball in a game against Washington on Sept. 25, 2015. DeGracie-Bailey set the UA career assist record earlier this season.

After starting the season with a 5-1-1 record, the Arizona women's soccer team has lost its last four games, including its first three Pac-12 Conference games. The Wildcats’ once-hot start to the season has cooled considerably, as they now sit with a 5-5-1 record.

The Wildcats were swept at home by the Rocky Mountain schools—Utah and Colorado—last weekend, giving Arizona three losses in its last three home games.

“Right now, we’re trying to regroup and trying to get that first [conference] win and after that we’ll progress from there,” UA defender Laura Pimienta said.

And maybe a change of scenery will help the Wildcats regroup. Arizona will leave Tucson and travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend where it’ll face Washington State and Washington.

The first game of the two-game road trip is in Pullman, Washington, against Washington State on Thursday night.

“They’re a good team,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said of the Cougars. “They’re tough, they run hard and they’re tough to beat especially there.”

Arizona hasn’t won a road game this season (0-2-1), but last season it did manage to knock off the then-No. 16 Cougars in the Wildcats' trip to Pullman. But it certainly wasn’t easy.

Arizona squeaked out a 1-0 victory despite being outshot 26-12. Wildcats goalkeeper Lainey Burdett had a career-high nine saves in the match, and was subsequently named as the Pac-12’s Goalkeeper of the Week after keeping the Cougars out of the net.

Amato believes a similar performance will be needed again if Arizona is going to escape with another road victory against WSU.

“They had shots, but we limited them to the kind of shots that it would be really special if they scored,” Amato said. “And Lainey had a really good game as well. She made some big saves last year, so we’ll need a lot of the same. We’ll need them to miss a chance or two, we’ll need Lainey to come up with a big save or two. And if they’re going to have 25, 26 shots, they gotta be from bad angles and long range.”

Washington State was the team to lose while outshooting its opponent last season, but it's been happening quite frequently to Arizona this season.

The Wildcats have outshot their opponents 57-46 during their four-game losing streak, but they’ve been outscored 9-2 in that same span. Simply, Arizona has had trouble capitalizing on scoring chances lately.

“I think we just need to work on…our composure in front of the goal,” said UA forward Paige Crouch, who scored Arizona’s lone goal in its 2-1 loss to Utah Sunday. “And then everyone kind of do their part and reflect in the mirror and see ‘what I need to do better next week’ to help the team win instead of what should others.”

Just like Arizona, Washington State is 5-5-1 on the season, but it has a 5-2-1 record at home.

“It’s just tough travel, it’s a tough environment and it’s just hard to go there and win," Amato said. "They’re a good team and it’s difficult to get in and out of Pullman. You gotta know you have a big challenge ahead and find a way to win.”

The Wildcats have found a way to beat the Cougars recently, as they've beaten them in two straight contests, even if the shot differential has favored WSU.

"We know it’s a big challenge and if the game looks exactly like last year, I’ll take it," Amato said. "If they outshoot us, and we win, I can live with that.”

Kickoff in Pullman is set for 7 p.m. and, afterward, the Wildcats will travel to Seattle to face Washington on Sunday afternoon, with the game time set for 1 p.m.


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