The Arizona soccer team was defeated by the University of Washington on Friday, March 5, as the Wildcats were shutout for the first time all season.
A disappointing loss that came after last week’s great effort against one of the best teams in the nation in UCLA, despite losing 2-1. The Wildcats couldn’t carry over that momentum and eventually fell to the Huskies 3-0. After getting off to a strong 4-0 start to the season, Arizona is now riding a two-game losing streak and is still seeking its first win in Pac-12 conference play.
The Wildcats struggled to find any continuity on offense as they only registered one shot on goal for the entire game. Forward Jada Talley knows that the margin of error in soccer is small and that a team must produce shots to have any chance of winning a game.
“Soccer games, you get two chances and if the other team puts away their two chances and you don’t, then you get a score of 3-0,” Talley said. “We didn’t even have shots on goal. You can’t win a soccer game if you’re not shooting the ball. It’s just little stuff, we have to work on it.”
The first period marked the first time all season that Arizona had zero shots on goal in any period. Washington did a commendable job keeping the Wildcats off balance on offense and gave them very few holes in their defense to exploit.
Talley was quick to suggest that their offensive struggles stemmed more from the team’s youth and veterans still learning how to play with one another than the opposing team’s defensive effort.
“I don’t want to say it’s what they were doing defensively,” Talley said. “It’s what we were doing offensively. We’re not looking to shoot the ball; we’re looking for that perfect key pass. It’s not quick touch play, that’s why it’s taking a little longer. I know where [Hannah Clifford’s] run is; I know where [Jill Aguilera’s] run is. I’ve played with them for four years. I cannot look and know where they’re going to be. It’s harder for someone who hasn’t been here to know where I’m running without looking at me.”
The first 20 minutes of the first period saw both teams struggle to find their footing and generate any kind of momentum. The possession percentage was about even with both teams being at 50 apiece. However, Washington did register several shots on goal but could never cash in with a goal. That all changed in the 35-minute mark when midfielder Ameera Hussen broke the stalemate with a great goal from 25 feet away that put the Huskies up 1-0.
For the second game in a row, the Wildcats went into halftime trailing by one goal.
The second period was more of the same for Arizona as they struggled to garner any life on offense as they were held to only one shot on goal for the period. The Huskies would capitalize on the Wildcats' offensive struggles as midfielder Olivia Van Der Jagt extended her team’s lead to 2-0 just 10 minutes into the period. A big deficit that the Wildcats would never be able to overcome.
The bleeding didn’t stop for Arizona in the second period as Washington would go up 3-0 thanks to an excellent assist by defender Kala McDaniel who found teammate Margaux Clarke for a goal that deflected off Arizona goalie Hope Hisey’s fingertips into the top right corner of the net. Despite permitting three goals, Hisey performed fairly well with four saves on seven shots on goal. It certainly wasn’t her best outing by any stretch as she hasn’t given up more than two goals in a game all season until today.
Arizona head coach Tony Amato knows that the team needs to start to take ownership and make improvements if they are going to climb out of their current funk.
“All of us have to take ownership, find ways to solve any problems that come up and improve and get better,” Amato said. “We’re a lot better when it’s not just me pulling people along or just the coaching staff. Our team understands that, and they take ownership in that. They want to get better and improve. You’ll see us perform better next week.”
The Wildcats will look to get back on track with their upcoming Oregon road trip. They will first play Oregon State next Friday, March 12 and conclude their trip with a match against Oregon on Sunday, March 14.
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