Jill Aguilera, redshirt freshman forward, did everything perfectly leading up to scoring Arizona soccer’s game-winning goal against Utah Thursday night. Aguilera scored in the 109th minute, with just under two minutes left in the second extra time period, her second of the night. But it wasn’t just a goal, it was a golazo, a howler, a cracker, Arizona’s best goal of the season so far.
Aguilera received the ball in Arizona’s side of the midfield circle with a defender to her right. With a quick burst of speed on the ball, she beat the initial defender. As Aguilera beat her first defender, another stepped to her from her left side. The Arizona forward then cut to her left, beating her second defender and getting the ball on her left foot.
“She got it on her left foot and just stepped into it and hit it. I just saw it again on replay, and it’s even more impressive when you see it a second time,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said.
From about 25 yards out, above the top left corner of the box, Aguilera unleashed a hard-hit, out-swinging ball that tucked just inside the far post in the upper corner.
“That goal for sure, in my college career and my career in general, is definitely one that I’ll always remember,” Aguilera said of her goal.
And that wasn’t even her first goal of the night. Aguilera hit a one-time volley, also with her left foot, off a corner kick to equalize the game in the 50th minute. The last time Aguilera scored multiple goals in a game was club soccer, according to Aguilera.
And were any of her club braces ever anything like her game on Thursday? “No,” she said.
The goal was so fast and exciting that her some of her teammates couldn’t even process what was happening.
“It was a blur,” according to midfield and forward Emily Knous. “I saw her dribble, I saw her take the shot and then I saw the dogpile. It was one of those moments that just gives you the chills instantly; it was a pretty cool moment.”
The game-winner even got the goalkeeper to sprint. “You just have all this excitement come over you, and then you, like, can’t control it,” said UA keeper Lainey Burdett. “I mean, I sprinted all the way from [the goal to the dogpile on the other side of the pitch], and that’s probably the only time I ever really sprint. It’s a good feeling.”
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Aguilera’s goal is her second game-winner of the season and her fourth goal overall. She also has three assists. She’s second for Arizona in goals, second in assists, and all while mainly coming off the bench.
The redshirt sophomore’s success this year comes after a disappointing campaign last year. She scored just two goals and recorded two assists.
“That’s all part of the process, right?” Amato said about Aguilera. “She was really a freshman last year – she missed a year with injury. She’s got that kind of ability. She’s fast, powerful, great, obviously, great, great, great left foot, and when she hits it …”
Arizona’s next game is Sunday, Sept. 30 at noon against #18 University of Colorado in Mulcahy Stadium. That game will be televised on Pac-12 networks. And while Jill Aguilera probably won’t start in that game, she’ll make an impact in the game greatly off the bench.
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