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Arizona soccer’s resiliency on display in 2019

The Wildcats have followed up all three of their losses with wins

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

The Arizona soccer team’s pregame playlist hit Spotify on Friday, loaded with 33 songs from a wide variety of artists like Queen, Kanye West, and Shakira.

But one tune must be missing—Tubthumping by Chumbawamba.

You know, that catchy 90s song whose chorus goes, I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.

Surely the Wildcats have been piping in that track too because it has been their modus operandi all season. They have followed all three of their losses with wins. Big ones, too.

Let’s recap:

  • Arizona got dismantled 4-0 at Santa Clara, then two days later shut out a San Jose State team that was on an extra day of rest.
  • Arizona lost a heartbreaker at home to Colorado in double overtime, then beat No. 10 three goals.
  • Arizona lost 1-0 to No. 6 USC, then responded with a 1-0 win Thursday at No. 15 Washington State.

Without that kind of resiliency, the Wildcats could very well be staring at an 0-4 conference record right now, looking a long shot to make the NCAA Tournament.

Instead, they are 2-2 with two wins over ranked teams and an RPI creeping toward the happy zone that is the top 32.

“I think our team is really good at having a short-term memory and not letting losses or even big wins affect us,” midfielder Kelcey Cavarra said by phone from Seattle. “I think we know that every game is going to be a dogfight so we prepare for that. But I’m so proud of where our team is at right now and just how we’ve bounced back from losses.”

It seems to help that Arizona feels it is continually underrated in the polls and, more recently, wrongfully omitted from NCAA’s Top Plays of the Week, despite Brooke Wilson netting a ridiculous goal against a ranked UCLA team.

“I think it’s huge just because, especially this season, I don’t think we’re getting the recognition we deserve,” Cavarra said. “NCAA doesn’t tweet at us. [Wilson] made [SportsCenter]’s Top 10, but nobody paid attention to that outside of Arizona, so I think that has really put a chip on our shoulder.”

Maybe the Wildcats can use it to do something they have never done since their program’s inception in 1994—win two conference road games in one weekend.

Arizona will go for the sweep of the Washington schools on Sunday when it takes on a surprise Washington Huskies team (7-3-2, 3-1) that Cavarra expects to be extra motivated.

And not just because UW is at home and it’s their legendary coach’s final season.

“No matter who they’ve beaten or lost to, Washington always gives us a fight, and I think especially after beating Wazzu we’re going to have a target on our back,” Cavarra said. “And like beating UCLA, we’re going to have a target on our back. Everyone wants to beat the team that beat the team, and so I think they’re going to bring it just as hard as Wazzu did. So I don’t think we’re going to take them lightly at all. We just gotta play our game and hope to get out of here with another win.”

And if they happen to get knocked down? Well, you know how that song goes—they’ll just get up again.

“We’ve fought in every game,” Cavarra said. “The two (Pac-12) games we did lose, we absolutely grinded and fought and were disappointed with the results, but it’s been huge to see that we can come back and beat good teams like we just did last night.”

Cavarra finally comes through

Cavarra has had some rotten luck this season, having two goals waved off due to penalties. The senior finally netted one that counted Thursday, notching the lone goal in the win over WSU by collecting a corner kick and firing it into the right side of the net in the 81st minute.

“That was amazing; it was super cool,” she said. “We had been fighting the whole game and they had chances, and so did we, so it was awesome that we got to put on in the back of the net and kinda clinch the win at that point. We still had to fight for like 10 minutes after that pretty hard, but that was pretty awesome that I got to score.

“I was just excited it didn’t get taken back, honestly, because that’s how a lot of my goals have gone. But that was sweet. I mean, I’ll take that goal over any of the ones that have been taken back so far.”

A hard-edge midfielder, Cavarra wanted to be more of a scoring threat as a senior, and while she only has one goal to her name, she is happy that she’s had opportunities to make things happen on set pieces.

Especially since it won’t be much longer before her career, one that has seen her play in every match since arriving at Arizona in 2016, will be over.

“It’s difficult. I try not to think about it a ton,” Cavarra said. “I don’t ever want it to be over. But it’s game-by-game and being so grateful that...I get to positively impact this team.”

Hope gives them hope

The other star of Thursday’s game was Hope Hisey, who made several acrobatic saves to keep the game scoreless and set the stage for Cavarra’s game-winner.

“Oh my God, Hope was unreal,” Cavarra said. “There were times where I really thought the ball was going in and we were going to have to fight back for the tie, and she just came out with amazing saves, played her butt off. I’m so proud of her. I feel really safe knowing that she’s behind me.”

That is high praise for a freshman who only joined the team a few months ago and is being asked to fill the void left by Lainey Burdett, the best keeper in school history.

“Definitely as a freshman it’s harder to be vocal, but I think she really found her way by playing, her actions in net,” Cavarra said. “After what we’ve seen what she can do, she had our respect, but now she has our trust as a team, and I think that’s huge.”