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Posted Sep 29, 2012, 11:12 am
Arizona put up a good effort but could not beat the third-ranked UCLA Bruins, falling 2-1 on Friday night.
UCLA was the first on the scoreboard when Zakiya Bywaters found the back of Arizona's net in the seventh minute of the home match-up.
For the rest of the half, Arizona pressed but was unable to get behind UCLA's defense. Arizona's defense was uneven: they were organized enough to force UCLA's offense into offside situations five times, but they also let them get shots off, forcing Gabby Kaufman to make three heroic saves.
The Wildcats' best chances came toward the end of the second half, starting with a free kick after UCLA's Jenna Richmond was called for tugging on Jazmin Ponce's arm. Kyrstin Magyar stepped up to take the kick. Although her delivery didn't result in a shot on goal, it gave the team a bit of spark. Minutes later, Julia Glanz sent the ball to Kirstin Strother. Strother's shot was powerful enough that UCLA keeper Katelyn Rowland was left to bat it away, which gave Arizona another chance that was unfortunately saved.
The whistle blew with the Cats still shut out, but with the knowledge that they could solve UCLA's defense.
At the beginning of the second half, Bywaters got past the Arizona defense and went one on one with Kaufman. The speedy forward easily scored her second goal.
A better organized defense in the second half only allowed UCLA one more shot.
It was only minutes later that a free kick by Strother nearly put the Wildcats on the board. The score was still 2-0, but the Cats' confidence level went up. Emily Lai tried to take on the keeper one on one minutes later, but Rowland, who up until that point hadn't let the ball by her all season, broke up Lai's charge.
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A similar play ten minutes later by Jazmin Ponce did the trick. Ponce took a pass from Susana Melendez and dribbled straight at Rowland. Rowland went down to block the shot a split second too early and Ponce slipped it past her right into the corner of the net.
It was the first shot to get past Rowland since last November.
Despite more pressing from the Wildcats, they were unable to score an equalizer.
If there is a good loss...
As far as losses go, the Wildcats could have done much worse.
"It's tough because you don't want to lose," said coach Lisa Oyen. "I think our team learned a lesson on how we can play and what we are going to see in our conference."
"We gave them too much time and space to play," Oyen said of the defense in the first half. "But in the second half our midfield adjusted and spurred it all."
The midfield adjustments gave Jazmin Ponce a lot more freedom to move off the ball in the second half, instead of trying to dribble past UCLA's well organized defense.
Most important to Oyen was that the team learned how they could go toe to toe with one of the best teams in the country.
"We can't focus on the names on the jerseys," she said. "Just focus on the things we need to do."
Who was out?
Colombian national team player Ana-Maria Montoya was limited to 39 minutes in the match while she's recovering from an illness, but still managed to get a shot.
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Ghana national team player Candice Osei-Agyemang did not play due to a knee injury.
The Wildcats will be in action again at Mulcahy Stadium on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. when they take on USC. The Women of Troy are coming off of a 5-4 loss to Tempe Normal in a match that featured the ejection of USC coach Ali Khosroshahin and two of his players. The match will be broadcast on the PAC 12 Network.