University of Arizona
Wildcat soccer team faces Matadors in first tune-up for 2022 season
Team's chance to test new possession tactics, problem-solving against largely unknown opponent
The University of Arizona women’s soccer team starts their spring schedule with a match against Arizona Western on Friday night.
Although none of the freshmen who will be playing in the fall season will be on the pitch, these matches are a good way for the players to prepare for the conference schedule in September. Because of the COVID-delayed 2020 season and the relatively late exit of previous coach Tony Amato, this will be the first chance for coach Becca Moros to have a spring season to prepare.
It’s particularly important for Moros, who didn’t have much time to bring a whole new system to the team before the 2021 season. Bringing the team closer to playing with her “positional possession” philosophy is a priority for the preseason matches.
“The objective of every possession team is to win and be purposeful and to score goals and to attack,” she explained. “Positional possession is one of those labels to distinguish it from ‘keep away’ style where people feel like you are holding the ball and not really going anywhere. The goal of positional possession is to take up more and more aggressive positions with every pass that moves…you are disorienting the opponent and opening up opportunities.”
It’s not the way that people have thought of PAC-12 teams. There has been a reputation of teams valuing athleticism and direct play, but Moros says that has been changing in recent years.
“I think with the influence of the new coaches at UCLA, USC, Utah and myself, you are looking at a lot of possession coaches, coaches that want to play,” she said. “They want to play a good brand of soccer and they want to challenge their players.”
Yuma-based Arizona Western earned a spot in the regional final in November, losing the match in overtime to Salt Lake Community College. It’s been quite a while since the Wildcats played against a junior college squad. Although followers of Pima College’s team may be familiar with them, the Wildcats are not. That gives a unique training opportunity, Moros says.
“It’s a totally new opponent. We have no scouting report. We didn’t do any film on them,” she said. “We’ll get to see how they analyze them as they step on the field, how they adjust…we think this will be a good opportunity to see them problem solving on the fly.”
The Arizona Wildcats will face the Arizona Western Matadors on Friday at 7 p.m. at Murphy Field.
Wednesday, Stanford University announced the death of goalkeeper Katie Meyer. It was later confirmed that she had committed suicide.
Meyer won the national championship with Stanford after shutting out North Carolina in 2019. One of her post-save demonstrations went viral.
“It’s total heartbreak…we have people with friends on the Stanford team. The heartbreak is tremendous,” Moros said of the woman she saw earn a clean sheet against her team last year. “You never know what people are dealing with.. it’s a reminder to all of us that there are things more important than soccer.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis or thoughts of suicide, no-cost 24/7 confidential support and crisis resources are available from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention:
The national 988 hotline is scheduled to go into service in summer 2022.