After beating Washington State last weekend, Arizona women’s soccer picked up their second straight win on Friday against Oregon 2-1.
With Oregon coming into the game as the last place team in the Pac-12 Conference, this was a must-win game for the Wildcats if they were hoping to jump back into the Pac-12 title race.
With the way the Wildcats started the game, it appeared they felt this way too.
Their offense created four shots in the first eight minutes of the game, including two from their leading scorer, Gabi Stoian.
Despite the fury of shots, the Wildcats didn’t get on the board until 43rd minute. After a foul, the Wildcats were awarded a free kick in Oregon territory. Gabi Stoian placed the free kick in the middle of the box.
The ball was then headed backwards by Hannah Stevens and collected by Paige Crouch. Crouch had a open shot and placed it in the bottom left of the corner to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead late in the first half.
“Gabi did an amazing kick to the middle of the box, and then Hannah Stevens flicked it on … and it hit my chest, it rolled down, and then I placed it in the left corner,” Crouch said about the go-ahead goal.
However, the Wildcats’ lead would only last for about two minutes, as right before the first half ended, Oregon’s Kyra Fawcett beautifully placed a cross from Abby Morrow into the top left corner of the net to tie things up. It seemed as though the Wildcats’ defense had let up a bit after taking the lead.
“We just tuned out for a minute there, and they scored a great goal,” Arizona head coach Amato said about Fawcett’s equalizer.
The Ducks, despite being last in the conference in shots taken, were able to manufacture nine shots in the first half.
“That’s something that I thought we weren’t sharp all night on, and it just happened to punish us right before halftime,” Amato said about his team’s defense.
The defense would tighten up in the second half, though.
The Wildcats’ backline would hold the Ducks to just four second half shots, none of which were particularly dangerous.
“We changed our midfield and tucked them in more so they weren’t beating us two versus one. We evened it out so we weren’t getting dribbled at and having to leave our [teammates],” Haley Silverberg said about the team’s defensive adjustments.
The Ducks returned the favor, however, and held Arizona to just five shots.
With both teams struggling to generate offense, it looked as though the game would be headed to extra time.
That is, until Silverberg stepped up and drilled a shot into the bottom corner of the net in the 88th minute.
Originally, Silverberg, as a defenseman, thought it would be best if she stayed back rather than attacking the ball. Fortunately for the Wildcats, she had a change of heart.
“I was actually going to hang back and not go up and play more defensive, but then I was like ‘this is our chance, let’s go’. I was going through all the steps ‘keep it low, stand over it, drive it,’ and luckily I did that,” Silverberg said about the game-winning goal.
"We were starting to prepare for extra time,” Amato added. “But we scored a great goal to get out of here with a win.”
The much-need win improves Arizona’s to 10-4-1 overall and 4-3 in the conference.
Still, Amato wasn’t too thrilled about the team’s performance.
“I didn’t feel we were particularly great tonight … We know that every Pac-12 team can be beat you on any day," Amato said. "It doesn’t matter [who it is]. We have to work and do the little things or we won’t be successful. We knew the game tonight would look a lot like it did. Oregon’s a good team and it’s just hard to win games at this level.”
In the end, however, a win is a win, and the Wildcats will now shift their focus to their game against Oregon State on Sunday.
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