Arizona Soccer

Arizona soccer handles GCU in season opener

Arizona soccer hadn’t played a regular-season game since Nov. 8, 2019, due to COVID-19, when the team snagged a 1-0 win over rival ASU. With the season getting pushed to the spring, the Wildcats had to wait nearly 15 months before playing a regular-season game.

On Thursday night, Arizona opened its season with a road test against GCU in front of 185 fans; that’s right, there were fans at the game. After falling behind 1-0 in the 30th minute, it was all Wildcats the rest of the way, scoring four unanswered goals to secure the 4-1 victory.

Through the first 30 minutes of action, Arizona’s offense wasn’t able to get any flow going having just four shots during that time, with only one having scoring potential as it went above the crossbar.

After getting a goal in the 34th minute from an “own goal” by GCU, Arizona went into the half tied 1-1 with seven shots. However, the team had just two shots on goal while the Lopes had six shots and three on goal.

In the second half, Arizona started to wear down GCU, scoring three goals in the second period to close out the game. The go-ahead goal was scored by Ava McCray in the 62nd minute off of an assist from Jill Aguilera on a corner kick that helped spark the team’s offense.

Aguilera added to the scoreboard with a rocket shot that snuck in the top left corner of the net from nearly 35 yards out.

Jada Talley would score the game’s final goal, which gives her 19 goals for her Arizona career, moving her past Christine Keeley, becoming the sixth-leading scorer in program history. 

Here are players McCray and Aguilera talking about the team’s performance and what it was like to play a regular-season game for the first time in over a year:

Although Arizona started slow, it completely dominated the second period, and it showed in the final statistical line. The Wildcats outshot GCU 15 to 12, but nine of the 15 shots were on goal while the Lopes only had five shots.

Where Arizona won this game was in corner kicks, winning the category six to one with two of the four goals coming from those opportunities. In fact, the Wildcats scored all four goals in set-pieces taking advantage of their opponent’s mistakes.

Here’s Arizona coach Tony Amato talking about his team’s performance, and he gave insight as to why his squad got off to a slow start:

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.

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