The University of Arizona women’s soccer team was supposed to open the season Aug. 22 with a game against Long Beach State, but the game was cancelled when a lengthy run of lightning descended on Mulcahy Stadium.
The cancellation was probably the best thing that could have happened to the California visitor because the Wildcats moved on to the next game on the schedule and blew away Weber State by scoring six goals in the first half. That was the most an Arizona team has ever scored in a first half of play.
And since that 6-0 victory over Weber State, the Wildcats have been creating a storm of their own.
The Arizona women have rolled through the 2019 schedule, scoring 15 goals while blanking every one of its four opponents. The Pac-12 school is one of just two programs in the nation that have not allowed a goal so far this season.
Coming off the momentum of the Weber State victory, two days later the Cats added Tennessee Tech to its list of conquests by posting a 3-0 shutout. Sophomore forward Brooke Wilson, who scored two goals against Weber State, added another as Arizona rolled to a 3-0 win.
But Wilson had plenty of company as nine different players have scored goals so far, which has made it particularly difficult for opponents trying to defend the high-flying Cats.
Hannah Clifford and Leah Carillo handled the scoring in the 2-0 win over Oklahoma in the third game, while the scoring in the last game, a 4-0 rout of UC Irvine, was spread among Wilson, Jill Aguilera, Jada Talley, and Madison Goerlinger. Talley was the team’s leading scorer last season, finishing with seven goals, while tying for a team-best 15 points.
The other two goals to round out the nine players who scored came from Lliana Hocking, who scored once in the opener, and Samantha Falasco, who picked up her goal in the Tennessee Tech game. Wilson leads the team with four goals and two assists, while Talley, a junior forward, has two goals and four assists.
Throughout the four-game run, the Cats have been aggressive on offense, taking 72 shots over 360 minutes of play.
But a lot of credit is also shared by a couple of freshmen who have taken turns protecting the Arizona goal through the four games. Both keepers are local products: Hope Hisey from Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, and Kendyll Humphreys, a redshirt freshman from Basha High School in Chandler.
Of course, the road to the playoffs will continue to get steeper as the schedule goes on. It’s still early, and no one knows that better than head coach Tony Amato. “It’s important for our team to keep getting better, and if you just get comfy and sit back, you’re not going to get better on the day,” Amato pointed out following the UC Irvine win. “I know what the road ahead is and sometime players can lose sight of that.
“We’ll find out Friday. That’s a really big test, the equivalent of playing one of the best teams in the Pac-12.”
Arizona goes on the road to California this weekend. Amato was referring to tonight’s game against Santa Clara, but then they will take on San Jose State two days later.
By Monday, we’ll all have a better idea of just what this team is capable of accomplishing this season.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)