Wildcat soccer exorcises Sun Devils
Goals from DeGracie, Glanz power Arizona past more highly regarded rivals
The University of Arizona Wildcats ended their season in grand style by beating their most bitter rivals, Arizona State University, by a score of 2-0 on Thursday afternoon.
Arizona put their stamp on the match in the first moments, when one of Jaden DeGracie’s patented flip-throws delivered the ball into the box. The ensuing pinball game in front of the goal allowed DeGracie enough time get into the box and score the first one for the home team.
The Cats’ defense only allowed a few chances for ASU in the first half, and limited Sun Devil sharpshooters Cali Farquharson and Devin Marshall to a paltry one shot apiece. Kaufman was called on to make six saves in the opening frame, but feared fork was not as sharp as usual.
Whatever change-ups ASU tried to make at half time, they still couldn’t solve the UA’s defense. Arizona pressured early with an acute shot that ASU keeper Chandler Morris tipped out for a corner kick.
A 60th minute throw in from DeGracie (a flip throw, of course) found the head of Julia Glanz who scored her second goal of the season.
Arizona pressure continued with shots from Jazmin Ponce and Ali Doller, who made the final shot of the match in the hopes of scoring against her old team.
The barrage over the final 30 minutes didn’t result in a goal, but kept ASU from any meaningful offensive possession. The match ended with the Wildcats up two goals to none, the first time they have beaten the Sun Devils since 2009.
The win also had another benefit. The win likely knocked the Sun Devils out of postseason contention, since a loss to the lower-ranked Wildcats will damage their score on the NCAA’s “ratings percentage index.” After the game, players expressed the hopes that Arizona still had an outside shot of playing in the postseason. All of that will be announced on Monday.
After the match, defender Shannon Heinzler talked about what went right for the team.
“They are a tough competitor. I think we did what we were working on all season: staying tight on our players, winning balls in the air, winning second balls,” she said “When the midfield does that, it makes it easier on the defenders. Everyone showed up today so it really helped.”
ASU’s Cali Farquharson, who leads the team in offense with ten goals and 2 assists, was virtually taken out of the game and limited to one shot in each half.
“Our center backs really shut her down. They stayed tight on her and didn’t let her turn,” she said. “We made it difficult for them to play.”
Among other usually effective offensive weapons for ASU, Devin Marshall (six goals on the season) was limited to one shot and Sarah Tosti and Holland Crook never got a look at goal at all.
Heinzler is one of three graduating seniors honored before the match. If the Wildcats aren’t picked for postseason, it will be the last time she wears an Arizona jersey. They are still hoping it is not.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” said the graduating defender. “We’ll find out on Monday. There’s a chance.”
“I don’t want to know about it yet,” said forward Jazmin Ponce. “When it comes, I’ll deal with it. Pretty much.”
The always intense Ponce was a favorite target for the ASU fans who skipped class to make the trip south. They jeered her by name, but she wasn’t rattled by it.
“Their fans rooting for them made me want to play even more,” she said. “It’s like they were cheering us. I feel like they were saying ‘U of A’ the whole time.”
Senior Ana-Maria Montoya called the game the “best possible ending” for her UA career, but there are still chances for her to play soccer at a high level. With the growth in the professional game on the women’s side, there are possibilities for all three seniors to continue.
In Montoya’s case, the future path is a bit more tangible. She represented Colombia in the Olympics last year, and she will be traveling to South America next summer to try to get a spot on Colombia’s women’s team for World Cup Qualifying. Two South American teams will qualify for the 2015 tournament, which will be held in Canada.
“We’ll see for now,” she said of her future on the world stage. “I am focusing on graduating, and then we’ll go from there. We are keeping in touch and continuing to train.”