Arizona soccer loses heartbreaker to Penn State in overtime
Arizona women's soccer head coach Tony Amato pumps up the team before a game against Pepperdine in September 2015. The Wildcats defeated NAU 1-0 in their final tune-up on Friday, August 12, before the 2016 regular season begins.
Arizona women’s soccer played nobly in their second-round game against No. 4 ranked Penn State on Friday, Nov. 22 when they lost 4-3 after having the lead multiple times throughout the game. The game started off in favor of the Wildcats when they took the lead in the first half and doubled it early in the second. Penn State came back to tie it up after scoring two goals in four minutes.
Arizona then took the lead back through Jill Aguilera before conceding again just before the end of regulation. Penn State then found the golden goal in overtime to send them to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
The game started with the usual high pressing from Arizona that had Penn State rattled. Arizona had nine shots in the first half compared to Penn State’s three shots because of the great pressing the Wildcats were doing. Their pressing led to a great goal from Grace Santos in the 39th minute. A cross came in from the sideline from Hannah Clifford. The cross found Santos at the outside of the box. She smashed the ball toward the far post, but it took a deflection off the defender and rolled into the net at the near post.
Iyana Zimmerman snagged Arizona’s second goal right out of the gate in the second half. This was her first goal of both the season and her career. Zimmerman pulled a rabbit out of a hat for this goal; when a bouncing ball came her way in the box, she headed it down to herself. She then got the ball at her feet and took one kick to float it toward the back post. It dropped into the back of the goal and was helped on by the Penn State keeper when she tried to tip it over the bar but pushed it further into the goal.
After Penn State scored two goals in four minutes, Jill Aguilera was subbed onto the pitch and made an instant impact. Super-sub Aguilera, with the ball at her feet, dribbled past her defender and toward the near post. As she closed in, she rifled the ball with her left foot into the roof of the net and past the keeper, giving the Wildcats the lead again.
Arizona conceded again in the 88th minute on a second solo goal from Sam Coffey for Penn State. It was hard shot to stop for Wildcat goalkeeper Hope Hisey, who had eight saves on the night, as it rolled past her to the far post. The game then went to overtime, in which Hisey made a super save. When she was flying through the air, she was able to tip the deflected shot over the bar. It was all for naught when Penn State’s Frankie Tagliaferri was played through. She then put the ball into the back of the net, finding the golden goal that gave Penn State the ticket to the third round.
It was a disappointing end to the season for the Wildcats. They had a great season finishing 12-6-1 and they have a lot of great players returning next season. The team will be looking for another tournament run next season and certainly have the tools necessary to do it.
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