TEMPE — It was a dream start to the season for Madison Goerlinger and the Arizona soccer team.
The freshman scored a header two minutes into her first college game, igniting a historic day offensively in which the UA netted a program-record six first-half goals in a 6-0 drubbing of Weber State.
“Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting,” Goerlinger said. “I’m so excited to be here, and to even start, I was not expecting that as a freshman. I just was so glad that I was able to take the opportunity and be able to finish that goal. ... When the corner was coming, I just knew that it was all me and I needed to finish it.”
That Arizona (1-0) scored so quickly Friday—and kept pouring it on—shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The Wildcats were dying to get on the field after their originally-scheduled season opener was canceled last Thursday.
“We came out like we were shot out of a cannon,” said sophomore forward Brooke Wilson. “We had so much adrenaline built up. The locker room was buzzing, the bus before was buzzing. We were really excited.”
Wilson scored from close range in the 35th minute, then completed the brace just four minutes later by tapping in her own rebound. Jada Talley netted a give-and-go in the 15th minute and Iliana Hocking put home a corner in the 37th minute for her first career goal.
Arizona outshot Weber State 22-2, and did most of its attacking on the right side. Both outside backs—Morgan McGarry and Sabrina Enciso—came forward to initiate the offense.
McGarry was credited with the assist on Hocking’s goal, and also launched the cross that Weber State knocked in for an own goal in the 25th minute. All six goals came well inside the 18-yard box.
“We hadn’t played a game, so I knew that the team would come out flying and on the front foot, and we caused some havoc in the first half to put them in some tricky spots defensively,” said Arizona coach Tony Amato. “We scored some good goals, but we created some situations that an own goal happened, and created some set pieces and scored, and Madison got us off the blocks right away with a great goal. ... And I just think overall it was a really good first half to set the tone for the season.”
Even though the game was out of hand early, it will give Amato a chance to zero in on some of the areas his team needs to improve before it delves into the grueling part of its schedule.
After Sunday’s match vs. Tennessee Tech (also in Tempe), Arizona has a three-game stretch in which it faces Oklahoma, UC Irvine, and No. 19 Santa Clara (on the road).
“I’m a much better coach when I can look at film and decide where we are ... and we haven’t really had that in two weeks other than in training,” Amato said. “So we now have it and we can get better.”
Amato almost got a glimpse of his entire roster Friday. It was 109 degrees at kickoff, so everyone but forward Brynn Moga (injury), freshman defender Sabrina Hillyer, freshman defender Molly Shannon and freshman goalkeeper Hope Hisey saw action.
Sophomore Kendyll Humphreys made her first-ever start in goal, and gloved two saves to record a clean sheet.
Goerlinger was the only newcomer to start. She has been impressing in training with her athleticism and poise on the ball.
Friday, she showed she can carry it over to the big stage.
“I was pretty nervous, but my excitement took over,” she said. “I think it’s a great learning step for us. ... Now we all have film, and we know where our fitness is, and where individually we need to improve.”
Freshman @MadisonGoer_ scored her first career goal just two minutes into her first college game to help @ArizonaSoccer beat Weber State: “It was so exciting. ... When the corner was coming, I just knew that it was all me and I needed to finish it.” pic.twitter.com/uLAltA36uD— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) August 31, 2019
.@brookiiew231 scored 2 of @ArizonaSoccer’s 6 first-half goals in the win over Weber State: “Missing our game last week because of the rain, we came out like we were shot out of a cannon. We were so excited to play:” pic.twitter.com/rEdw8T2oWn— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) August 31, 2019