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Posted Sep 15, 2012, 9:08 am
The University of Arizona Wildcats soccer team won their opening match in the Loew's Ventana Canyon Cats Classic tournament with a strong performance against the Florida International University Panthers. Arizona ended the Friday night match 2-0.
Arizona dominated possession for the opening half an hour, with Jazmin Ponce taking shots from the outside and other forwards slipping past the defense on a couple of occasions. A shot in the 32nd minute earned Arizona their first corner kick.
The break gave Arizona a chance to make a substitution, and they brought on Candice Osei-Agyemang. The substitution paid off quickly. Emily Lai took the corner and got the ball into the box. She had enough time to run into the scrum in front of the goal mouth and slipped the ball to Osei-Agyemang. Osei-Agyemang slid the ball past the Panther's keeper for the first goal in her college career.
The Wildcats dominated play in the second half as well. Osei-Agyemang was critical again with a ball she slid to Julia Glanz, who knocked a shot off the inside of the left post into the goal.
With the win, the Wildcats are at 4 wins and 3 losses for the season. They close out the Cats Classic on Sunday with a match against Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m.
Arizona coach Lisa Oyen was obviously happy with her team earning their first win of the season.
"The result was good. I can't complain about that," she said.
"I thought we came out really strong," she continued. "We put the pressure on and had a lot of shots. Their persistence was good."
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The team dominated on offense, out-shooting the Panthers 12-2 in the first half. They let off the pressure in the second half a bit, but still lead on shots 9-3.
Goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman earned her second clean sheet of the season, but the shutout also indicated improvement in the back line.
"There's a lot better composure. They made better decisions about when to make that long ball and when to connect out of the back," Oyen said. "I think that this was our best game at making those decisions. In the past, sometimes we get panicked and just hit the ball out."
"We always shoot for a shut out and we got it," said Kirstyn Magyar, who together with Alex Smith anchored the back line for all 90 minutes. Thanks to the efforts of the back four, the Panthers managed a scant three shots on goal, and FIU won only a single corner kick.
Of course, the defense doesn't score goals. Jazmin Ponce got four shots on target, one of six players to get a shot on frame.
Among the starters was Susana Melendez, who recorded only one shot but was a constant threat in the box. She's come up the hard way: she was a walk-on, red shirt, reserve and late game substitute.
"I feel much stronger, I feel more comfortable," she said about her growth as a player.
But, like many of the players on this squad, she'd rather give credit to her teammates for her improvement.
"The girls that came in this year helped out a lot," she said. "You want to play for your teammates."
Oh yeah, and ASU...
In Friday's afternoon match, Loyola Marymount was defeated by Arizona State 3-0. Three separate Sun Devils including Devin Marshall, Holland Crook, and Taylor McCarter scored in the victory. The Sun Devils are set to play Florida International at 12 p.m. at Murphy Field at Mulcahy Stadium.