Wildcats and Lobos claw to scoreless draw
Spring tune-up match was first look at CDO graduate Megan Baker
It was a spring season match, one designed to shake the cobwebs off. For the Arizona Wildcats, it came only two days after having to face some of the best players in the world in their game against the Portland Thorns. The mid-day match at Mulcahy Stadium on Sunday against the New Mexico Lobos ended in one of those nil-nil draws that soccer skeptics like to complain about.
Unlike Saturday’s match where the opposition’s offensive pressure kept Arizona from getting more than a few looks at goal, neither team had much of an attack. The Arizona midfield and defense kept New Mexico from having many looks at goal, but the lack of performance on the part of his own offense frustrated Arizona coach Tony Amato.
“That’s something we definitely have to work on. We have to be more dangerous in the final third,” he said. “We didn’t do that today. After the first 60 minutes, none of the attacking personalities had a shot. We definitely need to create more opportunities, find ways to get them the ball in dangerous positions and take advantage of that.”
The Cats managed to out-shoot New Mexico by a small margin, 8 – 6, with Priscilla Pimienta and Hannah Wong each garnering two.
Arizona was missing forwards Jaden DeGracie, who is out with concussion symptoms after a collision in Friday’s game, and Ali Doller, who is also recovering from injury. Amato divided up Sunday’s spring tune-up match into three periods as a way to try out different options. He brought Sheaffer Skadsen, who played defender last year, up to play forward alongside Kaitlyn Lopez in the first period. Alexa Montgomery took up attacking duties and managed one shot on goal after Skadsen was moved to the back.
It was also a chance to get a look at players that didn’t get a lot of time last year, such as Justene Kesterson and LeeAndra Smith.
“We looked at different players and we got to see some things,” he said. Some players showed us that they will be able to step into games in the fall. Some showed that they need some work. That’s part of the process.”
Each period featured a different goalkeeper. Gabby Kaufman, who had started for the team the last two years, played the first period with her backup, Alison Gondosch, filling in between the pipes in the second. Megan Baker, a Canyon del Oro high school graduate who recently transferred from the University of Miami, minded the net for the third period.
It was not the most exciting contest for the fans that showed up, but a good way for coach Amato to try out different combinations of players to see what things will look like for the fall. The spring season continues with a match on Saturday away against UTEP followed by a Sunday match in Las Cruces against New Mexico State.