Arizona Wildcats soccer
That makes 7: Cats extend unbeaten streak vs. S. Utah
López gets brace; Montoya, Montgomery & Edwards each take first goals of season
The Arizona Wildcats soccer team extended their undefeated streak on Friday night with a resounding 6–1 victory over Southern Utah University. It was the first night of the Arizona Cats Classic invitational tournament, and their second home match.
Ana-Maria Montoya opened the scoring in the fifth minute after a remarkable run by her striking partner, Jazmin Ponce. After Ponce dribbled through the defense on the right, she cut back and crossed it to a waiting Montoya.
“I was just thinking about taking on one person at a time,” she said after the match of her route through the Thunderbirds defense. “I knew I didn’t have a shot so I had my partner over here,” she continued, gesturing over to Montoya.
Ponce earned a goal on her own later in the half after Ali Doller got brought down in the box by Southern Utah’s Sabrina Hernandez. Hernandez earned a yellow card, and Ponce’s penalty kick easily found the back of the net.
Kaitlyn López scored two more after being brought in later in the second half. Both of López’s goals came from deliveries from sophomore Hannah Wong.
Arizona tallied a remarkable 15 shots in the first half, and dominated possession enough to keep Southern Utah to a paltry two shots. An enviable stat, but it also meant that starting keeper Gabby Kaufman only got to add a pair of saves to her season total (28) before being changed out for Kitchener, Ont. native Alison Gondosch for the second half.
Arizona’s ownership of the match continued in the second half with an unassisted goal by sophomore Alexa Montgomery. With the header, Montgomery recorded her first goal of the season.
Southern Utah finally earned its first corner kick in minute 61. Katie Jones sent the ball to Kelsea Godfrey, who scored what turned out to be the Thunderbirds’ only goal of the match.
Candace Edwards closed out the night’s scoring off of a corner kick from Emily Lai. It was also Edwards’s debut on the scoring sheet.
The win extends the Cats’ unbeaten streak to seven; their record now stands at 4-0-3. The weekend tournament concludes on Sunday with a much tougher contest against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who currently are riding on a 6-1-0 record. The game starts at 1:30 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium.
Montoya and Ponce up top
Seniors Ana-Maria Montoya and Jazmin Ponce played more up front than they have in many matches this season. This was more a matter of how the game went than any changes in tactics, said coach Tony Amato.
“We just put her in positions to find the ball. Sometimes that means dropping her more into midfield; sometimes that means pressing higher up the field,” he said of Ponce. “With Ana, the only thing different tonight was that their formation in midfield let her spin off her holding mid a little bit into that space. She was getting forward as a result of how they set up, but we didn’t draw it up any different.”
“It the way game moved,” Montoya said. “I had the opportunity to attack more in this game, so I took advantage of it.”
“He’s trying to get me to play up higher now,” said Ponce. “He wants me to get a little closer to the goal so I don’t have to dribble from back there and dribble around eight girls and just dribble around four. He’s trying to make it simpler for us.”
Last season, Montoya and Ponce combined for nearly half of the team’s goals. Already this year, the scoring responsibilities are spread around. Ponce is still the team’s leading scorer with four, but nine other players have also recorded goals in the first seven matches.
“It’s been interesting. We are not just depending on one or two people to get the job done,” Montoya said. “It’s been a whole group effort. It’s a lot more fun.”
Texas Tech Red Raiders 1 - Tempe Normal 0
In the afternoon Cats Classic match, Arizona State took on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Sun Devils held the 24th ranked Red Raiders scoreless throughout the first half, but Texas Tech’s Brianna Rohmer scored 32 seconds before the end of the first overtime period.
The loss ends ASU’s three game winning streak and leaves them with a record of 4-2-0. They play against Southern Utah on Sunday at 11 a.m.