'Cats can’t overcome injuries as they drop season opener
Arizona midfielder Gabi Stoian (9) swoops in to regain possession ahead of a group of Colorado players at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016.
The Arizona Wildcats soccer team dropped their season opener 1-0 to Albany, as the Great Danes eventually scored the game-winning goal in the 70th minute at Mulcahy Stadium. The ‘Cats lost despite out shooting the Great Danes 17-5.
Albany's 70th minute-clincher came after a counter attack. The ‘Cats nearly equalized in the 90th minute, but Amanda Porter’s goal was waved off because she was flagged for offsides.
However, there were plenty of missed chances for the 'Cats throughout. Arizona started the game with a burst of intensity, which in turn led to scoring chances nearly immediately.
Scoring opportunities continued to come for the ‘Cats as long as they were playing their trademark high press. But that high press is contingent on the ‘Cats playing with as much or more energy than their opponent. According to forward Jill Aguilera, UA’s energy decreased as the half progressed.
“I think that in the first half, we started out pretty well and then the energy kind of died down,” Aguilera said.
Goalkeeper Lainey Burdett noticed that Albany was able to sustain its intensity despite traveling nearly 2,500 miles for the match.
“Albany did really well. They flew all the way across the country and had energy and were buzzing,” Burdett said.
The ‘Cats had several good scoring opportunities, including a blocked shot off a corner kick in the 69th minute, but failed to finish all of them.
“I think it was really just that final pass that we couldn’t get off. We were making really good combinations, but that final pass. We had a lot of shots, but I think that final pass is what we need to work on,” Aguilera said.
The Wildcats were missing a few key players in their season opener who were banged up with minor injuries. Morgan McGarry, a All-Pac-12 second-teamer last year, and Samantha Falasco, a third-year starter, along with Hannah Clifford, all sat out.
Starting left back Sabrina Enciso also went down with an injury in the 40th minute and didn’t return.
The absence of McGary, Falasco and then Enciso forced Arizona's hand with its rotation and the lack of experience showed. UA's only starter remaining on the back line was true freshman Hallie Pearson.
“I mean you’d like to use it as an excuse, but, the thing is, everybody on our team is good. There’s not one person on our team that’s bad. So, we have to hold ourselves accountable for it and we needed to step up, but we’re unable to,” Burdett said about the injuries.
Arizona will look to bounce back in the next game on August 23 at UC Irvine.
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