The Arizona women’s soccer team showed out in its first match of the season against Grand Canyon University Thursday, Feb 4, winning 4-1, a great way to start their season after having missed so much time due to COVID-19.
“[Our style of play] is very fast, in your face, aggressive, psycho almost,” Arizona forward Jada Talley said before the game.
It was due to this high-octane style of play that eventually led to the Wildcats’ victory.
For almost the entirety of the game, the Wildcats were on the offensive. They controlled the pace of the game with ease.
After allowing GCU to score the first goal of the match, the Wildcats were able to force an own goal five minutes later. Their relentless attack on the goal caused a GCU player to accidentally guide an Arizona shot into the back of the net. Though the score was tied, it allowed Arizona some breathing room going into the half.
The second half was a very different story as Arizona’s shots began to find their target. At the 62 minute mark, Ava McCray put her head on a corner kick and sunk it into the back of the net for the Wildcats’ first true goal of the season. This was a huge sigh of relief for the team as it had seemed like none of their shots were ever going to make it to their destination, but once that first shot went in, it was smooth sailing from there on out.
Eight minutes later, Aguilera made her presence felt yet again with the best play of the night. She scored on an incredible 35-yard free kick that sunk the hearts of the opposing team as the Arizona lead increased to 3-1. There was nothing GCU goalkeeper Hayden Wallace could do to stop it as Aguilera placed the ball perfectly in the opposite corner of her.
But this now two-goal lead did not slow down the Arizona onslaught. The Wildcats continued to be extremely aggressive on offense to make sure their victory was secured. At the 79 minute mark, Talley was fouled in the box and was awarded a penalty kick. She ended up missing the kick, but recovered the ball and sent it home for her first goal of the season.
Talley continued to draw attention from multiple GCU defenders all night. However, she never gave up and seemingly willed the ball into the net, increasing Arizona’s lead to 4-1.
To GCU’s credit, they did not play poorly. Arizona ended up taking 15 shots with nine of them being on target. Of those nine shots, six were saved by Wallace, which is very good. Considering they were on defense most of the game, it was only a matter of time for Arizona’s stars to do their job. Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey also had an impressive game tonight saving four of the five shots on goal by GCU. Had she not been playing well, this game would have likely been much closer.
This was a terrific way for Arizona to start its season. A game like this, though it is not against a conference opponent, is always great for team morale. The Wildcats hope to carry the momentum into its second game against UTEP at home on Sunday, Feb 7.
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