'Cats unfazed by rain delays, different stadium in 5-0 win
The Arizona soccer team huddles before their game against USC on Oct. 5.
The Arizona Wildcats soccer team opened its season in style with a 5-0 win in a friendly against UTEP on a wet and rainy Saturday night at Kino Stadium. A series of rain and lightning delays halted play a couple of times, but the Wildcats didn't miss a beat on offense.
The ‘Cats had goals from Jada Talley, Amanda Porter, Hannah Clifford and Taryn Seigele, while goalie Lainey Burdett held a clean sheet for 80 minutes.
It’d be hard to dream of a better first few minutes of the season for Arizona. In the third minute, the ‘Cats pushed numbers into the box, overloading the left side. That left space for Kennedy Kieneker to send Talley through the back line. Talley had the time and space to take a few touches inside the box before slipping it past the UTEP ‘keeper.
Just seconds after Talley scored, though, play was stopped for nearly 45 minutes due to lightening from a storm.
“We scored and went back in the locker room, and we were, like, 'just keeping the energy going'. And it just showed on the field,” Kieneker said about the delay.
With the sodding at UA's normal home, Mulcahy Satdium, still not set, the 'Cats had to play on an unfamiliar territory. Yet, a rain soaked field didn't seem to hinder their performance.
Moments after play resumed, Porter found the back of the net. Porter, at the top of the UTEP box, combined with Kieneker and weaved her way to the top of the six-yard box, where Porter shielded off defenders before turning and finding the corner of the net.
Porter’s goal gave Arizona a 2-0 lead in just the sixth minute.
Just over ten minutes later, Clifford added to UA’s lead with a diving header. The ‘Cats were able to successfully get in goal-scoring areas, which dragged the UTEP left back into the box. In turn, that freed up Porter, and once the ‘Cats were able to find her, Porter had enough time to place a cross perfectly in front of the face of goal for Clifford to come on to.
Thirty minutes into the match, up 3-0, head coach Tony Amato brought on the first round of substitutes, ending the time that the starting eleven had on the field together. The next hour was spent by Amato giving freshmen minutes and mixing and matching pairings.
After the break, Kieneker got a goal of her own, heading down Porter’s corner service to herself before chipping it past the ‘keeper in the 57th minute. Seigele finished the scoring with a header off a corner in the 89th minute.
One of the biggest questions facing this team was how they were going to replace last year’s senior class, which was responsible for nearly a third of UA’s goals.
“I think we found that we have a couple goal scorers, obviously,” Kieneker said after the 5-0 win. “Jada, Amanda Porter, Hannah Clifford, I think they’ll all play a big part of our goal scoring.”
“I thought they were very good,” Amato said of his sophomore class. “You look at that class and they stepped up and did a really good job. Jada was buzzing, Cliffy (Hannah Clifford) was buzzing, Porter was buzzing, and Sabs (Sabrina Enciso) was Sabs. So, I think there were a lot of good things there, and we just keep moving forward.”
Arizona’s next game is on Friday, August 17th. That game is scheduled to be played at Mulcahy Stadium, and will be broadcast on Arizona Athletic's live stream.