Looking to avenge last season’s loss to Utah, the Arizona Wildcats wasted little time asserting themselves Thursday in Salt Lake City.
The Wildcats scored 19 seconds into the match, then tallied goals in the 5th and 19th minutes, propelling them to a 3-2 victory over the Utes, who scored two goals in the late goings.
Shortly after the first kick, Charlotte Brascia collected a pass from Gabi Stoian and fired a shot into the bottom left corner of the net to give UA an early 1-0 lead.
Moments later, Kennedy Kieneker dished ahead to Jill Aguilera who buried a left-footed shot inside the far post for UA’s second goal.
The first-half onslaught didn’t end there, as Cali Crisler tucked a shot inside the far post in the 19th minute on an assist from Aguilera to give UA a 3-0 lead.
That trio of goals was enough for Arizona to grab the road victory, but Utah certainly made things interesting.
Utah outshot Arizona 19-11 and peppered 11 shots on goal.
UA goalkeeper Lainey Burdett made several acrobatic saves to keep things scoreless until the 76th minute when Lulu Borges headed in a free kick from Paola Van der Veen to cut UA’s lead to 3-1.
The Utes tacked on another goal in the 87th minute, and even had a few shots for the equalizer after that, but the Wildcats were able to hold on for their second straight win.
Burdett tallied nine saves, the second-most she’s posted in a game this season.
Arizona improves to 7-4-3 overall and 4-2-1 in the Pac-12 — good for fifth in the conference. The Wildcats are 4-1 on the road this year, with their only loss being a 1-0 defeat vs. No. 2 Stanford.
Utah, which made the Sweet 16 last year and returned nearly their entire team, falls to 5-8-2 and 0-6-1 in the Pac-12.
The Wildcats will go for their third win in a row Sunday against the Colorado Buffaloes (8-5-3, 2-4-1 Pac-12) at noon in Boulder.
CU beat Arizona 1-0 in Tucson last season.
It was only a matter of time before Aguilera found the back of the net.
The redshirt freshman is third on the Wildcats in shots on-goal this season, but hadn’t scored since UA’s season-opener on Aug. 18.
Aguilera has had several scoring chances and nearly scored vs. Oregon State and UCLA in the last two games, but couldn’t capitalize.
“I asked some players if Jill is living some secret life we need to know about where the karma is going against her,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato joked Tuesday. “She’s getting in really good spots and the ball just hasn’t gone in the back of the net yet. I think she is bound to score some goals here down the stretch.”
Aguilera tore her ACL last year which forced her to miss her entire freshman season. The forward started the last two games for the UA, which were the first starts of her career.
“She is now looking like what I thought it would look like in the early months last year,” Amato said. “The injury I think set her back.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire