Despite a hope-filled attempt at a comeback late in the game, the Arizona soccer team fell to the Utah Utes by a score of 2-1 on Sunday, April 11, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Offense was the name of the game today on the pitch. From the very beginning, the Utes controlled the pace of the game. The typically forward-moving and fast paced Wildcats were on their heels defensively. And when they were on offense, there seemed to be a lack of communication.
The disheveled-looking backline for the Wildcats continuously allowed the Utes to create opportunities at the goal and put goalkeeper Hope Hisey in tough situations. She played very well even stopping a shot attempt on a dangerous one-on-one play from Utah’s Taliana Kaufusi. However, she could only prevent the ball from going in so many times before the Utes got one to hit the back net at the 25-minute mark.
But the Utes did not slow down. Just 25 seconds later the Utes created yet another one-on-one opportunity for Kaufusi and this time, Hisey could not stop her from completing her objective. The Utes carried their 2-0 lead into the half.
The first half stats for the Wildcats: four shots, two saves, two corner kicks and eight fouls. The Utes: eight shots, two saves, three corner kicks and three fouls.
In the second half, things were much different. Whatever the Wildcats head coach Tony Amato said to the team during the halftime break sparked a fire within the team. They came out aggressive and with obvious intent to flip the narrative of the match.
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Just four minutes into the second half, the Wildcat’s leading goal scorer, Jill Aguilera, fired a rocket from way outside the box off the assist from Iliana Hocking to cut the Utes lead to just one. Scoring a goal this early into the half lifted an immense amount of pressure off the shoulders of the Wildcats. They looked as much looser and more confident from that point on. They were able to set up scoring opportunities frequently, often spearheaded by Jada Talley.
After a sequence of great looks and shots on goal by the Wildcats, Talley was nearly able to send in the equalizer at the 76-minute mark. Fortunately for the Utes, fate was not on her side. The ball hit the bottom of the crossbar and seemed as though it was going to roll in, but was stopped short with just a sliver of the ball outside of the goal.
After the near goal by Talley, the Utes regained control of the ball and slowed things down. They parked the bus and made sure not to do anything that would allow the Wildcats a chance at a good-looking shot.
The Utes would go on to win 2-1 against the Wildcats on their senior day. The last chance efforts by Arizona simply were not enough today. The final stats for the Wildcats: 13 shots, five saves, five corner kicks and 16 fouls. The Utes: 11 shots, five saves, four corner kicks and seven fouls.
The Wildcats will play their final game of the regular season against rival Arizona State Sun Devils Friday, April 16, at 8 p.m. at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
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