Battling through a quad injury from the first whistle, Amanda Porter scored the golden goal to lift the Arizona Wildcats to a 2-1 overtime win over BYU on Friday in Tucson.
“She hobbled through it to hit the game-winner,” head coach Tony Amato said.
It was the first career goal for Porter, who fired in a deflected ball past the near post just 110 seconds into the first overtime period — a heroic ending after a nightmare beginning.
“Going into the first play of the game, I went into a tackle ... I got a knee to a quad and it tightened up, but I worked through to get back into the game and help my team,” Porter said.
The victory improves the Wildcats’ record to 3-2-2 heading into next Saturday’s Pac-12 opener vs. Oregon.
“It feels really good going into conference (play) with a win,” said UA forward Charlotte Brascia. “I think that’s a huge step for us and it gives us a lot of confidence too. ... We haven’t had to defend like that in a while, so that was a real challenge. They were similar to a Pac-12 team.”
BYU (1-4-3) outshot Arizona 11-8 and erased UA’s 1-0 lead late in the second half.
A through ball from Nadia Gomes found Madie Mathews behind the Wildcats’ back line, and Mathews’ shot skipped past UA goalkeeper Lainey Burdett.
“There was a bouncing ball in the middle where two girls hesitated on and their girl got to, and then she pinged a ball behind us and no one picked up a runner,” Amato said. “(Mathews) runs right through the center backs and Lainey misplayed the angle and didn’t get set.”
Mathews’ equalizer tied the game with roughly 18 minutes left in regulation.
“When they scored, I felt like we gotta regroup and get our attack going again,” Amato said. “I even told them (our players) at halftime that I felt like we would have to score again.”
Arizona entered the break with the lead after Brascia scored in the 32nd minute. She tapped in a rebound off a header from Kennedy Kieneker, which deflected off Hannah Clark’s gloves.
“Usually when we have set pieces, I shield the goalkeeper so when Kennedy headed it towards the goal, I was there anyways,” Brascia said. “That’s kinda my job.”
Brascia had a team-high two shots, leading an Arizona attack that was without leading scorer Gabi Stoian, who missed the match with a leg injury.
“I think Char had an outstanding game,” Amato said. “And I think she felt some responsibility of it has to be me up here to at least set some things up and she was involved in a lot of the attacks and been playing really well.”
Brascia, a senior, said she wants to try to be the hero in her final season in Tucson. Her goal Friday was her first this season.
“I think being the hero is something that I’ve always wanted, and I think now as a senior I have the time to do it,” she said.
But Brascia’s goal wasn’t enough as BYU’s attack put plenty of pressure on Arizona’s defense.
In the 19th minute, a point blank shot from Gomes at the top of six-yard box rolled just wide of the far post. In the 51st minute, Burdett made a leaping save on a distant shot from Elise Flake.
Eventually, BYU broke through with Mathews’ goal after outshooting Arizona 9-2 in the second half.
"BYU caused us a lot of problems on attack," Amato said. "They are a good team. We didn't really take advantage of some of those opportunities to counter. The team did a really good job of powering through, after giving up a goal and then finding a win in extra time. A lot of credit to our team."
Porter’s game-winning goal allowed Arizona to escape with their second-straight win, and their first overtime win since last year’s Senior Day when Arizona beat Cal on Cali Crisler’s game-winner.
“Everything feels a little more urgent in extra time because at any moment the game can be over,” Amato said. “We were able to make sure they understood that, and obviously we scored in two minutes, so I think they knew that and took that to heart.”
Crisler set up both Arizona goals Friday, which were the products of well-placed crosses.
That’s nothing new, as five of Arizona’s seven goals this season have been via a Crisler corner or cross.
"On corners and set pieces, we practice them so much that if we don’t do them the right way, it’s a bummer, because it’s a chance we can score off of,” Crisler said. “We don’t want to give that chance away. When we have those chances, we really need to focus and make sure that they’re executed right.”
More often than not, the left-footed midfielder has come through for the Wildcats.
“It’s funny because we’re hard on Cali because we want it to be perfect all the time, because we know she’s a good player,” Amato said. “She has popped up with great balls in almost every game that we’ve scored. Even in our weekend that we didn’t love in Tempe, she served both balls in.
“You gotta give her a lot of credit for taking the challenges from us all the time and still executing on the field.”
Crisler’s teammates certainly appreciate it.
“Her left foot is so good,” Brascia said. “We’re lucky to have a cross that’s always right there on our feet or on our head.”
“That was crazy”
UA forward Jill Aguilera nearly scored an incredible goal in the 37th minute.
The redshirt freshman collected a pass as she spun away from a defender and instantly fired a shot from distance, but it rang off the top left corner of the frame.
“That was crazy,” Aguilera said. “(The ball) had gone across my body and the girl kinda hit me in the chest, and I needed to get my body around the ball, and I saw it and then it hit the post. I really wish that would’ve gone in. That really would’ve been so awesome, an amazing feeling to help my team in that way. But we just have to keep taking more shots. The more shots we take the more goals we’re going to score.”