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Arizona soccer notebook: On a big leap in RPI, Talley’s Pac-12 honor, Cal and Stanford, and Cavarra’s luck

Jada Talley
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Arizona soccer jumped nine spots, from 37th to 28th, in the RPI rankings this week after sweeping the Oregon schools at home. That means if the season ended today the Wildcats would likely host the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

They did not, however, receive any votes in the latest coaches poll, a recurring theme this season.

“Even though we’re not super high in the RPI, we’re not ranked anymore, I just feel like we’re not a team to take lightly,” forward Jada Talley said Sunday. “You can look at our stats, look at our scores, look at our film, we come to play every time we come out.”

That is certainly true for Talley. The junior notched four goals and two assists against the Oregon schools, leading her to be named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

That makes her the first UA player to receive a conference honor this season. Talley is averaging two points per game since the start of conference play, tied for second-most in the Pac-12.

She leads the Wildcats in both goals (9) and assists (7).

“She’s on a roll, she’s a beast,” said midfielder Kelcey Cavarra. “I count on her so much, and whatever she’s doing, she’s got to keep doing it for us because we have big games [this] week.”

The Wildcats (10-4-1, 4-3-1) are set to travel to the Bay Area to face Cal (11-3-3, 3-2-3) and No. 2 Stanford (15-1, 8-0) on Thursday and Sunday, respectively. It is arguably the toughest road trip in the conference.

Arizona is 3-0-2 in its last five games against the Golden Bears, who are 33rd in RPI and have more than doubled their win total from last season.

“I think we’re pretty confident,” said senior defender Samantha Falasco. “We usually have a pretty good result against Cal since I’ve been here, and I know what our team is capable of, so I’m not worried in any way. And obviously the results at Stanford aren’t the best, but I still think we play very well as a team.”

Arizona is 2-23 all-time against Stanford, including 13 straight losses, but nobody has a good track record against the Cardinal.

Especially this season.

Led by Pac-12 goals and assists leader Catarina Macario, Stanford has won 10 in a row and has not conceded a goal in seven straight games.

The good news is the Cardinal are No. 1 in RPI, so the Wildcats’ postseason hopes won’t take a hit no matter what transpires in Palo Alto.

“Stereotypically, they’re Stanford, they’re the best,” Falasco said. “But it’s just like we have nothing to lose and we might as well just give it all we got.”

Cavarra’s senior season has been “a tease”

Cavarra described her senior season, individually, as “torture” and “a tease.” With three games left in the regular season, she only has one goal to her name—the game-winner at Washington State—but she should have many, many more.

The defensive midfielder has repeatedly been the victim of bad luck this season. She’s seen several goals waved off by the linesman, including one vs. Oregon, and Sunday against Oregon State had two shots knocked away at the goal line.

But her team won and that’s all she is focused on in her last go-around.

“If it’s not my goal, I’m glad other people are scoring and putting the ball in the back of the net,” Cavarra said. “As long as we’re winning, my individual stats don’t really matter. It’d be nice to have them, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.”

Zimmerman close to returning

Arizona has been without sophomore forward Iyana Zimmerman for almost a month now due to a right MCL injury, but she should be returning soon.

“She’s working her way back this week,” UA coach Tony Amato said last week before the Oregon game. “We thought she would be ready right now, and we’re probably a few days away from that.”

Zimmerman started in seven of eight games before suffering the injury against UCLA on Oct. 3. She has one assist this season.