The Arizona Wildcats soccer team seem to have found its stride. The ‘Cats beat the New Hampshire Wildcats 2-0 on Sunday afternoon in UA’s second leg of the Sun Devil Desert Classic in Tempe. Jada Talley (5’) and Emily Knous (29’) scored for Arizona.
Jada Talley’s early opener extended her streak of scoring early and putting the first number on the scoreboard. Talley was sent behind the defense on an aerial through-ball from her teammate, took a dribble to beat the keeper, and slid the ball home.
Talley scored in the tenth minute of Arizona’s last game and in the 29th minute of the game prior. Those goals were each the first of the game for either team.
Arizona’s lead was doubled in the 29th minute when Emily Knous took a UNH player on at the top of the box, created an inch of separation, and beat the keeper far post. Knous’ goal was her second of the season.
The 'Cats high press has been limiting opposing possession in the midfield and the ‘Cats midfield, anchored by Kelsey Cavarra and led by Kennedy Kieneker, is turning the takeaways into goal scoring chances. The ‘Cats outshot UNH 20-3.
Another positive sign: while UA is playing its best soccer to date, the ‘Cats are only getting better, especially since UA scored from outside the box. At times, UA becomes one dimensional in their scoring.
Early last season, the ‘Cats only scored off corners. Later in the season they evolved into a team that scored primarily on the counter attack. UA’s win over UNH signals that the ‘Cats are doing a much better job of mixing how they create scoring chances.
UA senior goalkeeper Lainey Burdett kept UNH off the board for her third clean sheet of the season and her twentieth of her career. That gives her the lead over McCall Smith for the most in program history. Burdett, last year as a junior, was named All-Pac-12 Second Team last season and was named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week once last season, as well.
The ‘Cats will be back in action next Friday, Sept. 7 against Boise State at Mulcahy Stadium (which has green grass and not blue turf) in Tucson. That game will be at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.
Follow Max Cohen on Twitter