Arizona soccer: Wildcats look for revenge in rivalry game at ASU
Triumphant Arizona soccer players sing "Bear Down Arizona" after their double overtime win against California on senior day at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016.
It's rivalry week for the Arizona soccer team.
On Friday, the Wildcats will head to Tempe to face in-state rival ASU at Sun Devil Stadium to wrap up their regular season.
Neither Arizona (8-9-1 overall, 3-7 Pac-12) nor ASU (6-10-1, 1-8-1 Pac-12) will make the NCAA Tournament this season, but records can be put aside when these two schools square off.
“I would think both teams are approaching it like it’s their NCAA Tournament game, so it should be quite competitive,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said. "Anytime you roll the ball out in a rivalry game, all things that have preceded that seem to be off the table and it becomes a heated battle.”
The Sun Devils have beaten the Wildcats in five of the last six Territorial Cup games, including a 4-1 drubbing of Arizona last season on the Wildcats' Senior Day.
And they didn't do it quietly.
Each time the Sun Devils tallied a goal, they flashed five fingers in the air, letting the Wildcats know they were in Tucson to embarrass them.
“They wanted to beat us by five goals," said UA midfielder Gabi Stoian. "That definitely stuck with us...We definitely don’t want that happening again. We want it to be the other way around."
Former ASU defender McKenzie Berryhill — now playing professionally in the National Women's Soccer League — scored in the first half, and cupped her hand over her ear, taunting the pro-Arizona crowd.
Amato didn't have an issue with it.
“Honestly, they were kicking our butt, so it didn’t bother me that much," Amato said. "I fall in that line of if you’re doing enough good things to be able to do that and we’re not stopping it, that’s our problem."
Antics aside, the Wildcats are hoping they can flip the script this time around and get revenge for last season's 4-1 loss.
“I don’t pay attention to what the other team is doing, we just pay attention to our own game," said senior midfielder Jaden DeGracie-Bailey. "Who cares what they’re doing? Forget them. We’re just playing our own game and this year we’re going to take it to them, and it’s no different than any other year, especially because last year it stung, so we want to do the same to them.”
Amato believes last year's struggles against ASU can be attributed to his team overlooking that game for the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats, who were a virtual lock to make the tourney heading into that match, wound up hosting Northern Colorado in the First Round a week after the loss to ASU.
“I think we got caught last year," Amato said. "We were having a good season and we were going to the NCAA Tournament, and I kind of thought the team would just automatically be ready to go and play hard against ASU. And that maybe didn’t translate to the start of both halves, and we’re making sure that doesn’t happen this year.”
Arizona is coming off a week in which it split with the Bay Area schools, losing 4-0 to No. 3 Stanford on Thursday, then defeating No. 21 Cal 2-1 in double overtime on Senior Day on Sunday.
Meanwhile, ASU has dropped six matches in a row.
"They’ve been up and down, we’ve been up and down, so I think it’s going to be a flip of the coin game," Amato said. "And anytime, even if they were the best team in the country and we were having a down year, we’d say it’s a 50-50 game."
Friday's game is set to kickoff at 3 p.m., and it will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. ASU has a 17-3-1 record all-time against Arizona.
"We have an opportunity to end .500 on the season, and to me that would be a high note, especially against our rivals," said UA senior midfielder Jaden DeGracie-Bailey. "I really want to stick it to [ASU]."
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