Tucson, Ariz. – The University of Arizona Wildcat soccer team hosted the University of New Mexico Lobos in an exhibition match on Saturday, Aug. 16. The match was delayed due to lightning in the area for just over an hour. The game was halted after just 16 minutes of action in the first of three 30-minute periods. Arizona won the match by a score of 3-0 at Mulcahy Stadium.
“It was great, we put in the effort and got a positive result, which I thought we deserved” head coach Tony Amato said. “We played a good team. Both teams were working on some things and looking at some things and it played out for us where we got a positive result, which is really exciting for us and I thought it was deserved.”
Prior to the rain delay, the Wildcats had four shots but none of them were on target. The best chance came from the right foot of sophomore Lexe Selman. Just outside the 18-yard box, Selman launched a rocket that sailed just over the crossbar. Sophomore Jaden DeGracie had three flip throw-ins in that short time, putting pressure on the Lobos. Defensively, the Wildcats only allowed one shot that was deflected by a defender and safely chased down by senior goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman.
“I think it’s really important,” Amato said. “It’s going to happen at some point in the year where we get disrupted, whether it’s weather, it’s travel, it’s something. You want your team to stay focused and I thought they did an excellent job of that.”
In the second period, the Wildcats scored two goals within four minutes of each other. First, freshman Gabi Stoian gave the Wildcats the lead off a pass from fellow freshman Charlotte Brascia 5:47 into the second period. Next, Stoian took the set piece for the Wildcats off a New Mexico foul. Her in-swinging ball from the left side of the field found the head of junior Hayley Estopare at the back post to put the Wildcats up two goals. That second goal came at the 9:20 mark of the second period.
“It felt amazing (playing my first collegiate game),” Stoian said. “I love being here and playing with this team, it was an amazing atmosphere and I was excited to get my first goal. I was a little nervous going into the game but I play with these girls every day, all of preseason, so that was good that I got to know them and we play well together. (Getting a goal and an assist) It helps me a lot going forward, I knew it was going to be tough going in and it was but we worked together and we got it done.”
The Wildcats tacked on third goal in the final period of action, courtesy of senior LeeAndra Smith’s right foot. The Wildcats earned another set piece with 4:57 remaining in the game. The ball fell to Smith’s feet, she fired on goal, the keeper parried right back to Smith who then put it in the back of the net.
The Wildcats had 14 athletes fire 20 shots and seven of them were on target. They won four corner kicks on the night as well. They committed six fouls and were called offsides on three occasions. Kaufman was between the sticks for the first two periods while freshman Rachel Estopare was the keeper for the final period.
The Lobos took three shots with only one of them needing a save from Kaufman. They committed four fouls and did not register a corner kick or an offside call.
“I was very pleased (with the defensive effort),” Amato said. “I thought we tightened some things up. We were able to put pressure on their backs when they were trying to get forward. I thought we marked better in the box and we stepped with forwards better. It definitely looked better, it’s not perfect and we want to keep working on some things but it was better, which is important. When you go from game-to-game you want to keep improving.”
The Wildcats will begin competitive matches for the 2014 season when they head to Florida to compete against Florida International on Friday, Aug. 22.
For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat soccer, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaWSoccer on Twitter.