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Arizona soccer makes drive up to Tempe

Tournament position may be on the line against streaking Sun Devils

Untold column inches have been written about the University of Arizona versus Arizona State University. Another chapter of that rivalry will be written on Friday as Arizona's soccer team makes the bus ride up Interstate 10 to play in Tempe.

This year's match will be a bit daunting for the Wildcats. ASU's 5-3-1 record doesn't look that much better than Arizona's 4-4-2, but they have momentum. They are on a four-game winning streak. The only team in the conference that can brag of a longer streak is UCLA, the runner-up for last year's national championship.

ASU signed five international players this season. Two of them, German Marlene Schimmer and Nicole Douglas of England, are responsible for half the goals that the Sun Devils have scored this season.

Coach Tony Amato admits that, given recruits like that and their current form, ASU will be a handful.

"They are a smart team and play really good soccer," he said. "We are going to have to play well or we won't get the victory."

"When they have the ball, they are going to try to open up and open us up and make the field really big," he said. "They build their attack from the back up to their forwards (Douglas, Schimmer)...we are going to have to make sure they don't do that build up and play the ball higher up the field."

It's the big rivalry, so it's a must win game. To get into the post-season tournament, it's not "must win" so much as "winning will make things a bit more certain." Arizona is currently at 27th in the NCAA's RPI standings, which are the ones that tournament selectors use. A win on Friday will keep the Wildcats in the the top 35, which all but guarantees a spot in the tournament. A loss will send them down a few spots, putting them "on the bubble" for tournament selection.

ASU, by the way, is currently at 40th.

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Should Arizona not win on Friday, Amato thinks that the team's performance against non-conference teams will make a difference.

"When you are on the bubble, they look at quality wins. What was your resume" he said. "We have a quality win against Baylor (3-1 on September 9), who is 3 in the RPI. We'll hang our head on that and hope it gets us in."

Hometown gibes

The Arizona/Arizona State rivalry serves as either a stand-in for or enhancement of the Tucson-Phoenix rivalry. Even so, Arizona boasts of a bevy of Maricopa County-born players on its roster.

Defender Leah Carrillo was a four-year letter winner at Fountain Hills High School and played club for the Scottsdale Blackhawks. So, growing up, she wanted to play for ASU, right?

"Noooo…" she said after a practice this week.

"I decided between them," she said. "It was too close to home and it's too spread out. I didn't like it."

She also noted that she liked the possibility of being with a soccer program that is being built.

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Stan Liu, Arizona Athletics

Wildcat Amanda Porter scored the winning goal vs. Washington State as the UA team closed out their regular season at home, Oct. 21.

Arizona v ASU: The Amato Years

Arizona has gone 3 - 2 against their cross-state rivals since Tony Amato was named head coach.

  • 2013: Arizona 2 (Jaden DeGracie, Julia Glanz) - ASU 0, Tucson
  • 2014: Arizona 0 - ASU 1 (Madison Stark), Tempe
  • 2015: Arizona 1 (Hayley Estopare) - ASU 4 (Cali Farquharson 3 goals, Mackenzie Berryhill), Tucson
  • 2016: Arizona 1 (Samantha Falasco) - ASU 0, Tempe
  • 2017: Arizona 2 (Hannah Clifford, Gabe Stoian) - ASU 1 (Jazmarie Mader), Tucson