After tying Colorado on Friday in a high-scoring game that included six goals, No. 21 Arizona women’s soccer beat Utah 1-0 on Sunday in Salt Lake City in what was a defensive battle. The win brings the Wildcats to a 12-4-2 record on the season, including a 6-3-1 record in Pac-12 Conference play.
It’s the second time in program history that Arizona has won at least 12 games, the first time coming in 2004.
Even though Utah (6-10-3, 3-7-0) was coming off of an overtime win over ASU, the Utes still lost five of six coming into this game and were near the bottom of the conference.
Despite that, the Utes didn’t make it easy on the Wildcats.
Arizona, facing a defense in Utah that ranks near the bottom in most statistical categories, only managed to take five shots in the first half, with Cali Crisler taking four of them.
The Wildcats’ defense would hold Utah’s offense to just five shots in the first 45 minutes as well, as there was no score heading into halftime. The second half would feature a bit more offensive firepower. A through ball created an open shot for Utah two minutes into the half, but the shot sailed just wide of the post.
The Wildcats countered two minutes after that. Hannah Wong weaved through two defenders and fired a shot into the corner of the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. It was Wong’s first goal of the season.
Wong’s goal was all the Wildcats needed as their defense went on to pitch its eighth shutout of the season. It wasn’t without a few scares here and there by the Utes’ offense, however.
A Utah cross went into Arizona’s box in the 56th minute and was collected and put on net by a Ute player, but Arizona keeper Lainey Burdett was there to make the save. A free kick in the 74th minute looked to be another dangerous chance for Utah, but it was cleared away by Hannah Stevens.
The Utes would get another corner kick shortly after but Burdett was able to dispose of it. Utah would get a powerful shot on net from about 15 yards out right after that, but Burdett punched it over the crossbar.
Utah outshot Arizona 15-10, but Burdett finished with six saves and ultimately kept the Utes off the scoreboard.
The Wildcats will head home after earning a split against the mountain schools and can consider this weekend a successful road trip. Arizona head coach Tony Amato said this is the toughest road test in the Pac-12 because of the extended amount of travel involved, but the Wildcats were well prepared for it.
“It was a great weekend for us,” Amato said. “Hannah [Wong] scored a great goal and I told her at halftime that [I] thought it would be a great time for her to score. She had a great moment and it was great to see her respond that way, especially when the team needed it.”
There is now just one game left in the regular season for Arizona, as it’ll host ASU on Nov. 6. While the Wildcats are no longer in contention to win the conference, they still have a shot to finish in the top three.
It’s also the last time Arizona’s seniors will take to Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium, barring the team hosting an NCAA Tournament game. Catch the kickoff live at 6 p.m. Friday on Pac-12 Networks.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.