It appeared to be the perfect start.
Less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s match, Jada Talley unleashed a beautiful arching shot into the upper corner to give Arizona an early lead on No. 18 Colorado.
“I got hyped,” she said.
But the euphoria lasted all of 14 seconds.
The Buffaloes fired the ensuing kickoff into UA’s third and Taylor Kornieck looped an angled shot over UA goalkeeper Lainey Burdett for the equalizer.
It would be the final goal of the match, as the teams played to a 1-1 draw in double overtime.
“That wasn’t awesome,” UA coach Tony Amato said of CU’s equalizer. “Their player scored a great goal and a great finish, but there’s the old adage that right after you score, it’s the easiest time to get scored on, and we took that to a new level today.”
Still, Amato and UA players were content with the result. They capped the home stand with four points, after beating Utah 2-1 in double overtime Thursday.
Arizona is now 8-2-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the Pac-12 heading into an arduous road trip against No. 2 USC and No. 13 UCLA next weekend.
“It’s an important four points in Pac-12 play,” Amato said. “Both teams we played are good and all the games are going to be close. It was exactly what we expected it would be going into the weekend — that it would one-goal games either way — and that’s how it played out. So I was pleased with our team’s effort overall and there’s some little things here and there that we’ll continue to get better at and chip away at as we go into the season.”
Sunday’s match was about as even as they come. Arizona narrowly outshot Colorado 17-15 and both had several scoring chances after their 12th-minute goals.
In the 59th minute, Arizona’s Amanda Porter ripped a free kick on frame, but Colorado’s Jalen Tompkins dove to her left, making a splendid save. A minute later, a header by UA’s Kennedy Kieneker went just wide of the near post.
Colorado pushed back. In the 74th minute, Stephanie Zuniga made a run into Arizona’s 18, but UA center back Samantha Falasco was there to deflect the close-range shot.
In the 85th minute, a volley by CU’s Emily Groark rang off the crossbar. In overtime, UA’s Emily Knous and CU’s Tatum Barton each fired shots that missed the frame by mere inches.
“I think both teams fought really hard, it just didn’t land for anybody,” Talley said. “We both had chances to end the game. I’m happy with my team’s performance. We played well, it’s hot, everybody knows it’s hot, so I thought it was good.”
It was a particularly impressive performance by Arizona’s backline. They held the Pac-12’s No. 1 scoring offense to one goal, two below its season average, and did so without a key defender for the final 46 minutes.
Sophomore outside back Sabrina Enciso left the game with a right ankle injury in the second half, and had to be helped off the field by trainers. Her departure forced Amato to improvise.
He subbed in Leah Carillo and had Porter drop back from the midfield. The patchwork unit managed to keep Colorado scoreless the rest of the match.
“You have to be ready for Plan B and Plan C, especially in overtime games,” Amato said.
“Colorado has some really dangerous players and every defender that was in the back had to battle and win 1-v-1s or make some last-ditch efforts to clear balls out of the box or stop an attack and they did an awesome job. They should be really proud of their effort. Sam, (Hallie Pearson) and Morgan (McGarry) were all outstanding back there. Sabs was great before she got hurt.”
Talley was especially complimentary of Falasco. The junior made several key stops.
“She saved us at least three times,” said Talley, whose six goals are a team-high. “We would have lost if Sam didn’t play today. She played her butt off.”
And while Arizona did not win, a draw isn’t the worst result, either. Colorado is one of just five teams in the country without a loss this season.
“It was a tough weekend,” Falasco said, “but overall I think we got the points we needed.”
Arizona heads to Southern California next weekend to face No. 2 USC and No. 13 UCLA on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
The L.A. schools historically dominate Arizona — UA has only beaten them a combined six times since 1994 — but the Wildcats played them tough last season. They tied UCLA for the first time ever and fell to USC on a penalty kick in overtime.
Amato’s initial thoughts on UA’s upcoming opponents?
“Um, they’re good,” he deadpanned. “Everyone knows that. But I’ll tell you, last year our team was up for the fight and they’ll be up for the fight again this week.”
Amato said Enciso has a sprained ankle. It’s too early to know the severity of it, but she was on crutches after the game.
The sophomore has started every game the past two seasons.
“It makes me sad because that’s one of our best backs,” Talley said. “I know we’re going into ‘SC and UCLA next weekend and we really need her. She just has to keep working with (our trainer) and hopefully she’ll be OK.”
Talley joked: “I live with her, so I’ll bring her ice — and Tylenol.”
UA forward Jill Aguilera, who scored both goals in Thursday’s win vs. Utah, also left the game with a right ankle sprain, but it’s “just a little tweak.”
“It’ll be all right,” she said.
Junior defender @samanthafalasco had several key tackles in @ArizonaSoccer’s 1-1 draw vs. No. 18 Colorado: “It was a tough weekend, but overall we got the points we needed.” pic.twitter.com/7d1BU1ANQ1— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) September 30, 2018
.@jadatalley_ scored her team-high 6th goal of the season in @ArizonaSoccer’s 1-1 draw vs. No. 18 Colorado. She netted a shot from distance: “We played well and everyone stepped up when they needed to.” pic.twitter.com/1K37upqwLC— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) September 30, 2018
Colorado was averaging 3 goals per game heading into Sunday, but @ArizonaSoccer limited them to one in the 1-1 draw.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) September 30, 2018
Tony Amato on his team’s backline: “They did an awesome job. They should be really proud of their effort.” pic.twitter.com/TNpD0DPgpq