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Arizona soccer returns to the Top 25

The Wildcats have won four straight since dropping their opener

arizona-soccer-pac-12-preseason-coaches-poll-6th-2023 Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

After rattling off four straight wins, the Arizona Wildcats find themselves back in the Top 25, checking in at No. 22 in Top Drawer Soccer’s latest rankings. Arizona started the season at No. 21, but fell out after dropping their season-opener to Albany.

Arizona (4-1) is now the fifth-highest ranked team in the Pac-12, only behind Stanford, USC, UCLA and Washington State. Colorado is 23rd in TDS’ Top 25.

The Wildcats have beaten UC Irvine, Houston Baptist, Southeast Missouri State and New Hampshire in the last two weeks, outscoring those teams 14-0.

Arizona’s backline of Morgan McGarry, Sabrina Enciso, Hallie Pearson and Samantha Falasco has not allowed a goal in over 379 minutes, which is the longest stretch since 2016 when Arizona didn’t allow a goal for 414 minutes, per the UA. Arizona has only allowed one goal all season, but it resulted in the 1-0 loss to Albany.

Senior goalkeeper Lainey Burdett has the third-best goals-against average (.20) in the conference, and picked up her 21st career shutout on Sunday, breaking a school record.

Other than UC Irvine, Arizona’s non-conference schedule has been fairly weak so far, which could pose some problems once conference play begins.

However, Arizona will be tested this weekend when they host Boise State (4-1) and Baylor (4-2) on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Boise State won 13 games last season and Baylor reached the Elite Eight after winning the Big 12 Tournament.

It’s a good opportunity to see where the Wildcats stand heading into their Pac-12 opener at No. 1 Stanford on Sept. 21. In between, Arizona has a home match against Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 14. The Titans are 2-3-1 but were an NCAA Tournament team last season, so that should be a challenge, too.

Sophomore Jada Talley is Arizona’s leading scorer with four goals, the third-best mark in the Pac-12. Talley and redshirt sophomore Jill Aguilera lead the Pac-12 in shots (19). Aguilera has scored once, which was the game-winner against UC Irvine.

Highly-regarded freshmen Emily Knous and Brooke Wilson each have two goals, and a host of other players have one. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Porter has not scored yet this season, but she leads the Wildcats with three assists.

As a team, Arizona leads the conference in shots (105) and corner kicks (40), and is second in assists (15). Their 20.3 shots per game rank tied for 19th in the nation and their 14 goals are tied with Stanford for third in the Pac-12 (though Stanford has played one fewer game).

Arizona received four votes in the Coaches Poll, making them the No. 41 team in the country by that measure. (In my experience, the TDS Poll is more accurate since coaches generally aren’t very diligent with their votes.)

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