Arizona soccer keeps win streak alive with win over Baylor
The Arizona women's soccer team is good.
Yes, they’re good, but Arizona plays in the Pac-12. The best conference in the country. To compete for a conference title, the ‘Cats will have to be great. The University of Arizona is taking that next step, and it was on full display in Arizona’s first goal against Baylor Sunday afternoon.
Baylor is one of the best teams Arizona’s faced to date, and the two teams were evenly matched through the first half hour. But it was in the 31st minute when Arizona struck.
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Kennedy Kieneker made an interception in Arizona’s offensive third after a potential goal-saving tackle by one of Baylor’s defenders. Kieneker then played a ball to Emily Knous, who stood several yards beyond the top of the semicircle at the top of the box.
Knous played to the feet of Brooke Wilson at the top of the box in front of goal, who played a first-time ball to Amanda Porter, who drew in a defender. Porter’s run opened space for Knous to make a run toward goal. Porter recognized that and played Knous, who drove a ball off a defender on the goal line and in.
This goal is great for the ‘Cats for several reasons. First off, it shows an ability to combine. The UA has been able to combine up the wings to open the field of play for them, which has created more scoring chances. They’ve also tried combining closer to goal, but it hasn't led to many scoring chances.
This combination in the box shows Arizona’s development in traffic. The ‘Cats create a lot of turnovers in their attacking third, but that often pins opponents deep in their own half with most of their players behind the ball. An ability to combine close to goal just makes their signature high press more dangerous.
Arizona’s combination goal also shows the talent and soccer IQ of Arizona’s underclassmen. The UA usually relies on their seniors for most of their offense, with Cali Crisler, Gabi Stoian and Charlotte Brascia being the elder statesmen, but they were two freshman and a sophomore that punished the Baylor defense.
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That’s a testament to head coach Tony Amato’s ability to recruit and develop young players. Brooke Wilson has played in several U.S. Under-18 national camps, and is possibly the biggest recruit in Arizona history.
Emily Knous enrolled at Arizona last winter and spent all spring with Amato and the rest of the ‘Cats. Amanda Porter showed her ability to develop quickly last season, as she earned bigger roles as the season progressed, and eventually put herself in a position to score crucial goals for the UA last season.
Arizona is a good team. They haven’t played great competition but are two weeks away from traveling to Palo Alto to face top-ranked Stanford. They’ve performed well enough against lesser teams, but it’ll be a fun ride to see how they match up against the cream of the Pac-12 crop.
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