The Arizona soccer team was victorious over New Mexico State University on Saturday, Feb. 13, as forward Jada Talley scored her first goal since the season opener. Her score early in the game would spearhead a dominant 4-0 victory.
Arizona continues to ride its early-season momentum as they are now off to a stellar 3-0 start.
The win marks their second consecutive shutout and they are now 2-0 at home. Talley offered a lot of praise to teammates that were able to fill in smoothly for a lot of the starters that were hobbled with injuries this week.
“We have players that can step up,” Talley said. “We had a lot of injuries with starters this week. It showed that if we do have people down, they can step up and it’s not just over. It was good seeing my teammates not fold under pressure and really work for us.”
The Wildcats' strong depth showed and paid dividends in a game that they controlled since the first whistle. Ball control and high-tempo offense were the key ingredients to Arizona’s success and helped secure them the easy victory.
Much like the UTEP game, the Wildcats were getting an early feel for their opponent, looking for any cracks in New Mexico State’s defense to expose and find the right opportunity to strike. Talley took notice and made the Aggies pay with a chip shot that was set up beautifully by an assist from freshman Jordan Hall at the 15-minute mark for an early 1-0 lead.
Talley’s early goal in the first period would set the tone for the Wildcats in this contest.
Forward Jill Aguilera soon followed suit with her own goal as defender Ava Hetzel delivered the assist at the 19-minute mark.
After racing to a comfortable 2-0 lead, Arizona never looked back.
In the second half, the Wildcats carried over their momentum from the first into the second period with ease. They earned their third goal thanks to an own goal by the Aggies at the 59-minute mark. The high scoring display would not stop there as Arizona’s midfielder Grace Santos buried a beautiful goal through the bottom right corner of the net at the 80-minute mark. A goal that was made possible by an excellent assist from fellow midfielder Madison Goerlinger.
Arizona had its paws all over this game thanks to dominant ball possession and a fast pace offense that could not be stopped. New Mexico State had no answers for their opponent’s offensive prowess as they were pinning their ears back for the entire match. To make matters worse, the Aggies struggled mightily to generate any rhythm and fluidity on offense thanks to Arizona’s stifling defensive presses, a defensive scheme that opponents have yet to figure out.
“We focus on making sure they don’t settle into games,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said. “We try to close space and work together, disrupt what they are trying to do, and we think that makes it difficult for the other team. When we do it at our best, we are really hard to play against.”
The 4-0 shutout by Arizona marked goalkeeper Hope Hisey’s second straight clean sheet. She gave a commendable effort that saw her register two saves on two shots on goal. For most of the match, the Aggies rarely posed as a threat for Hisey thanks in large part to her side’s great defensive performance.
Despite allowing four goals, New Mexico State goalkeeper Makenna Gottschalk was the lone star for her squad as she saved three shots on goal for the match. An effort that wasn’t enough to help the team seize any kind of momentum.
Arizona continues to ride the dynamic frontline of Talley and Aguilera as they have made up half of its scoring output with six goals combined, a big reason why they have marched to a respectable 3-0 record to start the season.
The Wildcats will continue to ride their star forwards beginning in their next match against Northern Arizona University at home on Saturday, Feb. 20.
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