Bruins hold off Cats in first PAC-12 tilt
Wong collects third goal of season
Yes, the University of Arizona Wildcats had a 2 -1 loss to fourth ranked UCLA on Sunday afternoon, but Coach Tony Amato didn’t see the match as a failure, far from it.
“We gave away two goals in the first half that were things that we trained for this week. We were a little disappointed in how we gave the goals up, but they have good players that can cause problems,” he said. “But overall, the girls worked hard and put in a good performance. They grabbed a goal to put them back in the game and created two or three chances in the second half that could have equalized. I think we can take a lot of positives out of the match.”
The Bruins put the first number on the scoreboard with a fifth-minute tally from Taylor Smith that beat Arizona keeper Gabby Kaufman. That started a long run of Arizona being pressed deep into their own half, with even forwards back trying to keep the Bruins from lengthening their lead.
It took nearly 20 minutes of pressure, but Taylor created a chance with a pass to Sam Mewis. The junior (and blogger) got it past a stretching Kaufman to get her third goal of the season.
Arizona managed a rare foray up the field, and Jazmin Ponce saw an open Hannah Wong. The Kiwi sophomore found the back of the net and got the Cats back into the match.
The match was a bit more even in the second half, and a lot less eventful. Arizona managed several forays up the field, causing Bruins keeper Katelyn Rowland to make saves. Neither team got on the board, however. The game ended in a 2 – 1 victory for the visitors.
The Wildcats travel to California to face 2011 NCAA champion Stanford Cardinal on Friday, which begins a long stretch of away games. Their next home match will be against Washington State on Oct 25.
On the bright side
One thing that Arizona can brag about in this match is that they were able to do what six of nine previous opponents were couldn’t: they scored on UCLA. Still, two regrettable goals were allowed in the first half, but Amato was satisfied with the adjustments the team made at halftime.
“We revisited that (our mistakes) at halftime and we did a much better job of those two things,” he said. “I think once or twice they broke down … but that’s expected.”
Amato praised the work of goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman.
“I don’t think she could have done much about the goals,” Amato said. “Everything else, she did a good job. We’ve asked her to stay connected to the back, and she’s done a good job of that. She had a couple of saves that were high that she confidently pushed over the bar. She did a nice job today.”
UCLA’s big gun this season has been Darian Jenkins. The freshman and former member of the U.S. Under-17 team had scored seven times in nine games coming in to Saturday’s match. Jenkins was limited to a single shot at the goal in her time on the field.
“Our coach told us to make sure she didn’t get anything,” said defender Mykaylin Rosenquist. “As a whole our defense we just made sure to prevent the cross and if they were attacking to keep our marks. We just stayed tight on her so she didn’t get much.”
Most important for players and coaches was that the team didn’t fall after those first half errors. The team stayed competitive and nearly equalized.
“We were able to find our groove,” said goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman after signing autographs. “It took us a little while in the first half, but we were able to get in and compete…in this game we showed people that we could compete.”