First-year head coach Becca Moros did not have the debut she wanted as the Arizona soccer team was shut out by Utah Valley 2-0 on Friday, August 20 at Clyde Field.
From the very first kick, UVU came out aggressive and controlled the tempo for much of the first period. Midfielder Nicole Ray got things going with the first shot on goal at 2:11, but goalkeeper Hope Hisey steered the ball away. UVU came back again when forward Sadie Brockbank fired a shot on goal at 8:22 but the ball went wide.
At the 15-minute mark, the Wildcats charged up the field with forward Jill Aguilera leading the way. Aguilera dished out a great pass to forward Quincy Bonds but the Wildcats were called off-sides.
Both teams went back and forth with great defensive stops on each end with no offense able to find a rhythm. Then at the 18-minute mark, Ray found some space and drove the ball under the extended glove of Hisey to give the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead.
UVU kept the pressure on Arizona throughout the rest of the first period. Forward Amber Tripp had a couple of shots on goal at the 20-minute mark, with one shot going wide and the other just missing the top right corner of the goal. The Wolverines kicked five more shots on goal and an exhausted Wildcat team headed into the half down by one goal.
Arizona started slow once again and was getting torn apart by the Wolverine defense. Midfielder Heather Stainbrook took on the Wildcat defense by herself with back-to-back shots on goal at around the 54-minute mark with one sailing wide left and the other over the top of the goal.
A scare for UVU happened at 59:12 when Tripp went down in the backfield with an apparent injury. Tripp was helped off the field by a coach and teammate. With one of their best forwards temporarily out for the game, the Wildcats had a shot to create some offense but were unable to find a rhythm.
UVU was awarded a free-kick at 67:41 after the first Wolverine faked the kick Stainbrook came in hot and fired it through the defending Arizona wall and past Hisey for a commanding 2-0 lead.
"We asked our players to lean on their experience and playing in big games is not something new for us," head coach Chris Lemay told Utah Valley athletics. "Certainly, having the fans here was unbelievable. The environment was just right. We were getting close in preseason camp and had most of the pieces together and tonight it all kicked in."
From that point on UVU had their way with Arizona, pushing and shoving the Wildcats in every direction and crushing any attempt at an offensive rally. The Wildcats looked deflated and frustrated as they kicked the ball around the field with no sense of urgency. The last gasp of life came with two minutes left in the game when Arizona made a small final push towards the goal. Bonds was open on the right side and fired the ball into the net to erase the shutout, or so she thought. A late whistle was blown, and the Wildcats were called offsides, negating the goal.
In the end, Hisey was battered with constant shots on goal, Aguilera and the offense were nowhere to be found and Moros began her head coaching career at Arizona with a tough loss.
Key stats from the match
- The Wildcats had not lost a season-opening game since 2018.
- Utah Valley had 22 shots with six of them on goal. Arizona had only one shot.
- Utah Valley had eight corner kicks and Arizona had only one.
- Arizona committed more fouls (eight) than they had shots on goal (zero).
- The first goal snapped a three-game shutout streak for Hisey, dating back the Wildcats matchup against Arizona State on Friday, April 16, 2020.
Arizona will look to regroup when they face Northern Arizona at Mulcahy Stadium on Friday, August 27 at 7 p.m. MST.
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