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Brynn Moga’s first career goal lifts Arizona to 2OT win vs. Washington

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

It took Brynn Moga three years to notch her first goal with the Arizona Wildcats, but it was sure worth the wait.

The junior headed in the golden goal as Arizona beat Washington 1-0 in double overtime on Thursday.

“It’s amazing. I don’t have words for it,” Moga said. “It’s exciting.”

Moga, who played 32 minutes off the bench, scored in the 104th minute, cashing in on a pair of assists from Jada Talley and Iliana Hocking. Talley sent a cross from the left side of the 18 to the middle of the box, where Hocking promptly volleyed it to the back post.

Moga did the rest.

“I just put my head through it,” she said. “It’s crazy, honestly. We were all fighting super hard and we had to get it. It sucks it had to take that long, but it had to happen.”

Arizona’s bench cleared after the ball graced the back of the net, and Moga was soon engulfed by her teammates. Everyone was happy — and relieved.

“It’s such an amazing feeling,” Hocking said. “Especially because we all wanted this win so bad and really needed it.”

It was Arizona’s first win in their last five games, and maybe their biggest victory yet.

Washington entered near the bottom of the Pac-12, so it was a match the Wildcats (9-4-2, 2-3-2) felt they had to win to ensure they stay off the NCAA Tournament bubble come Selection Monday.

“It was one of those games where we weren’t at our best, we had to grind it out and the team was doing that and working through it,” said UA head coach Tony Amato. “... Jada did well to get it to Ili, Ili puts it to the back post and Brynn attacked it, which was awesome. … We’re really happy about that. We think we can play better, but we’ll take the win.”

Arizona outshot Washington 16-10, as both teams failed to capitalize on their scoring chances in a physical game that featured 22 fouls and four yellow cards.

Washington’s best opportunity transpired in the 22nd minute, but UA goalkeeper Lainey Burdett knocked down a close, angled shot to preserve the tie.

Arizona had a trio of point-blank shots in the 57th minute, but they were blocked and the ball was eventually cleared to safety. Talley made a run in the 89th minute after a nice feed from Amanda Porter, but her shot was deflected, setting up a corner.

That proved fruitless, and the Wildcats went to overtime for the fourth time in as many home games.

“It’s frustrating,” Talley said of UA’s stretch of overtime games, “but sometimes we find a way and sometimes we don’t.”

This time they did, and they usually do. Arizona has not lost in overtime in over a calendar year.

“To have the team have that feeling in overtime, to find a way to get that result when we hadn’t won in a few games now will definitely lift the spirits in the locker room and push us forward to Sunday (vs. Washington State),” Amato said.

After the win, the Wildcats marched to the bleachers where they lined up to slap hands with the UA faithful. Moga was out in front, smiling ear to ear.

She deserves a moment like that, Talley said.

Moga has had plenty of ups and downs throughout her career — she played defense as a freshman, only appeared in seven games as a sophomore and now plays forward, subbing in here and there — but she has always shown a willingness to do what her team needs.

Thursday, it needed a game-winning goal and she came through.

“It’s a total journey. Peaks and valleys,” Amato said. “Brynn’s had all of those and to her credit, she’s stuck with it, she’s been resilient, and to pop up with a goal tonight is big.”

Postgame interviews