The final game of the regular season for No. 23 Arizona women’s soccer is here. The Wildcats will host rival ASU (8-8-1, 4-5-1 Pac-12 Conference) on Friday night at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium in a game that certainly has plenty of meaning.
Arizona (12-4-2, 6-3-1) is No. 17 in RPI, and while a win would cement the Wildcats with a top-three record in the conference, it would also make the Wildcats a virtual lock to host an NCAA Tournament game next Friday.
“We’re looking forward to this game against ASU—then hopefully hosting an NCAA Tournament game in the first time in the history of the program,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said.
Finishing in the top half of the conference, let alone the top three, is something that many thought would never happen for Arizona.
The Wildcats’ current goal is to close out the regular season with a victory to ensure a tournament game next week, but Arizona knows the significance of finishing in the top three of the Pac-12.
Amato acknowledged the fact that many people within the department and a lot of people outside of the program questioned if Arizona could ever finish in the top half of the conference.
“And as it stands today, we’re sitting third in [my] third season, just behind two very, very good programs that have won national championships,” Amato said.
The head coach said that, in light of all the current senior class has gone through in its time in Tucson, the seniors will definitely get the recognition they deserve Friday during senior night.
“[Our seniors] had to come into a new coach and new ways and a different way to look at things,” Amato said. “But all of our seniors bought into everything we wanted to do, and that’s why we’ve been successful. If you don’t have seniors that will be leaders and support the coaching staff, you can’t be successful. And credit to them; they’ve not only done it on the field, but they’ve also been leaders along the way.”
While there will be plenty of festivities to celebrate the six seniors’ careers, the Wildcats have to be ready to play from the start against ASU.
Arizona has been bitten by slow starts this season, and the Sun Devils are currently one of the hottest teams in the conference.
The Sun Devils had a shaky start, going 4-7 in their first 11 games, in part because they were without star player Cali Farquharson for several games. She has since returned, and the Sun Devils have won four of their last five games.
Arizona’s rival has improved its health while the Wildcats have had to battle the injury bug in some key players as of late. The team’s leading scorer Gabi Stoian (quad) and usual starter Charlotte Brascia (head injury) both missed Arizona’s games against Colorado and Utah last weekend.
While their conditions have improved, Stoian and Brascia still have yet to fully participate in a practice. Stoian will be a game-time decision while Brascia’s status is unclear, but it seems unlikely she’ll play.
ASU and Arizona have split their last two matches together, with the home team winning each time.
The Wildcats are certainly hoping history will repeat itself in this rivalry game, but as with every Wildcat-Sun Devil showdown, it should be a close and hard-fought match.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
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