Arizona women's soccer wins in chaotic playoff rematch against TCU

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Alex McIntyre and Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat Arizona defender Brynn Moga (7) celebrates her teammate Samantha Falasco (23)'s first goal as a Wildcat with an embrace after the Wildcats' 1-0 win over ASU at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Falasco left the match during the first half after a collision with ASU forward Larisa Staub (23), but later returned to score the only goal of the game.

It was a fiery and gritty game for Arizona women’s soccer on Saturday, Nov. 16, when the final score didn’t exactly tell the story of the 90-minute game. The game ended with a final score of 1-0 in favor of Arizona in its playoff win over TCU.

However, there were 35 totals shots in the game, 12 corner kicks, 11 saves and 14 fouls. This is the Wildcats’ third year in a row heading to the second round of the NCAA playoffs; this year, they will face No. 4 Penn State, who defeated Stony Brook by a final score of 3-1 in its previous game.

The first half of the game didn’t go as planned for the Wildcats, who ceded possession to the Horned Frogs for a majority of the period. 

“We were a little bit more direct, so they didn’t have an opportunity to press as much as they typically do,” said TCU Head Coach Eric Bell.

This game was a tale of two halves. Arizona came out looking to cause “chaos,” according to Arizona Head Coach Tony Amato. It was a plan that worked out for the Wildcats. In the 63rd minute, a pass was touched by Leah Carillo into the path of senior Brynn Moga, who stroked the ball around the keeper and into the back of the net for the lead and her first goal of the entire season.

“I just got my foot on it,” Moga said. “Go cause chaos, that was the big thing.”

In the 72nd minute of the game, things took a shocking turn when TCU’s Messiah Bright was given a red card and sent off for fighting. The skirmish took place between Bright and sophomore Hallie Pearson after the ball had been played from the scene.

“Hallie got punched,” said senior Samantha Falasco. “I was trying to get everyone and myself just to get focused back on the game again.”

Even Amato recognized the “chaos” of the situation at hand between Bright and Pearson.

“There was a little bit of chaos there, myself included,” Amato said. Once we settled in I think that actually ignited our team from an energy standpoint. I was really proud of [Hallie] not to react because if she reacts now, they’re both sent off.”

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In the 81st minute of the game, Yazmeen Ryan drove into the heart of Arizona’s box and rifled a shot past freshman goalkeeper Hope Hisey. The ball struck the crossbar, bounced off the ground and struck the crossbar again before it was cleared by the Wildcats’ defense.

“It had to be super close,” Amato said. “I think it hit the post, came off, hit [Sabrina Enciso] and hit the crossbar. There are times in this game … just generally coaching when you feel like the luck’s against you and that moment I definitely felt the luck was with us.”

With this win, Arizona has progressed to the second round of the NCAA playoffs for the third year in a row.

“It’s pretty incredible,” senior Kelcey Cavarra said. “I mean we’re like a program that hasn’t done that because we haven’t even been in the tournament three years in a row so that’s pretty big. We always talk about building a legacy and this is just part of the legacy we want to leave.”

They’ll look to build on that legacy next weekend when they face their next opponent No. 4 Penn State. Penn State advanced to the second round when the team came back to beat Stony Brook by a final score of 3-1 after being down a goal. Penn State’s record in the Big 10 Conference was 8-3-0 finishing as No. 4. With their last win, Penn State is now on a nine-game winning streak and the Nittany Lions look like they will be hard to stop.

The Wildcats will feel comfortable going into next weekend where they will play in Palo Alto, Calif., at Stanford’s home territory.

“We know the hotels, we know the food, we know the places we like to eat. It feels like we played there more than anywhere we’ve played in the last seven years,” Amato said. “We’re gonna have to be really on top of our game to get the win, and I thought the grit and character we showed tonight sets us up for that, but we gotta fine-tune some things to improve if we’re gonna beat Penn State.”

Catch all the action next weekend between Arizona and Penn State on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m.


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