In their return to Mulcahy Stadium, Arizona soccer lost to No. 3 UCLA 2-1 after playing an inspired 90 minutes of soccer on Thursday, Sept. 30.
Arizona started the game off aggressively, taking two shots within the first eight minutes of the game. Maddy Koleno took the first shot and Quincy Bonds took the second one. Both were saved by UCLA goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy. Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey had an impressive leaping save in the 10th minute to keep UCLA at bay.
UCLA was able to score in the 19th minute. Marley Canales crossed the ball into the box where Mia Fishel headed the ball over Hisey to take a 1-0 lead over the Wildcats.
Arizona forward Madison Goerlinger took a shot from inside the box that nearly went in but was saved by UCLA’s Brzykcy in the 29th minute. Arizona trailed UCLA at halftime by a score of 1-0 after having their next three shots saved.
In the second half, Arizona wasted no time, coming out and scoring in the 52nd minute. Goerlinger passed the ball to Jill Aguilera who took a long shot from inside the box that soared over Brzykcy into the back of the net.
Aguilera tied Gabi Stoian for the second-most goals in program history. Not only was it Aguilera’s 29th career goal but she became the second player to score a goal against UCLA this season, ending UCLA’s eight-game shutout streak.
Arizona continued to dominate possession until UCLA’s defense took the ball away and capitalized with a goal off another corner kick in the 70th minute. Canales took the corner which got headed away from the goal by UCLA’s Lexi Wright. The ball then got deflected to Maricarmen Reyes who took the shot which slipped past Hisey to retake the lead 2-1.
Arizona struggled in the remaining 20 minutes to regain possession but had an opportunity on a corner that came in the 80th minute. The kick went over the goal and was untouched by any player. For the final 10 minutes, UCLA held the ball in Arizona’s half to end the game.
Even after a tough loss against one of the top teams in the country, the team thought it was their best performance of the season.
“I think there was belief, I think that confidence is something that we maybe have been lacking in our past games," Hisey said. "But tonight I felt like everybody believed in themselves and believed in each other and trusted each other and that showed out on the field."
Aguilera seconded that feeling and is focused on the team's future.
“I think our biggest takeaway is how good we are when we put all the things that we’ve been working so hard for weeks and weeks on the field," Aguilera said. "I think moving forward we’re going to see that and we’re going to do exactly what we can do to replicate tonight’s game in future games in playing well, passing well, moving well, talking well overall.”
Head coach Becca Moros noted that as the team has had more time practicing and playing together that they have shown a lot of improvement.
“I’m really proud of them, We’ve been waiting for that critical mass," Moros said. “I think tonight was as close to a complete performance we’ve had … they were outstanding and I am really proud of them.”
Arizona’s record is now 3-6-0 after starting conference play 0-2. Arizona will look to rebound against USC on Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium.
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