After scoring Arizona’s third goal of the day, Jada Talley walked toward the center line and clapped her hands to get her teammates’ attention.
“Come on, let’s keep it going!” she yelled.
That Arizona already had a three-goal lead less than 10 minutes into the first half didn’t matter.
“In the locker room, Tony (Amato) told us, ‘don’t take your foot off the gas,’” Talley said. “We wanted to be Team USA versus Thailand.”
The Wildcats wouldn’t score 13 goals like the USWNT, but they did tack on a fourth in the second half and cruise to a 4-0 win over UC Irvine on Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium.
“It’s human nature when you score three goals in nine and a half minutes to take your foot off the pedal, get comfy, relax a little bit,” Amato said. “I’ve been in too many games where it can go 3-1, then 3-2. And then with eight minutes to go, you’re up against the gun as they throw everybody forward. And I wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen.”
Arizona is now 4-0 on the season, with all four wins coming in dominant fashion. The Wildcats have posted a 15-0 goal differential, and have won each game by at least two goals.
Arizona limited the Anteaters to five shots Sunday, and has only allowed 13 all season.
Freshman Hope Hisey made her second start and recorded three saves after serving as Kendyll Humphreys’ backup in Friday’s shutout vs. Oklahoma.
“It definitely inspires a lot of confidence, and it’s just shown how good our backline is and how we’re able to keep the ball in attack,” Hisey said. “And I think it’s a testament to our press as well, to be able to keep teams locked in so they don’t get a lot of chances.”
That relentless high press spurred Arizona’s offense Sunday too. All four scores were created off turnovers.
“We think that’s our playmaker, and that’s by design that we are able to create some scoring chances and goals out of some defensive transition,” Amato said. “So hopefully we’ll keep getting better at that, and it’ll be really important as we move forward. When we connect that first ball out, we’re a better team.”
Some nifty passing by Talley was a catalyst as well. In the second minute, she lofted a ball behind the defense that Brooke Wilson chipped over the keeper for her team-high fourth goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Talley dished a ball to the left side of the box where Jill Aguilera slotted a shot inside the far post.
Talley got in on the scoring action three minutes later by netting a cross from Iyana Zimmerman after Aguilera had dispossessed a UCI defender.
“I think everyone’s playing as a team, and I think all of our practices have paid off,” said Talley, who has two goals and four assists this season. “I know we didn’t even get that first game, so we were a week behind everybody, but I feel like we got that time together as a team and I’m just really proud of the way everyone’s been playing with each other. I feel like we know each other very well. We know what kind of ball to play everybody. And everyone’s effort has been there every single game. So you can’t even ask for any more.”
Freshman Madison Goerlinger added the final goal in the 52nd minute by netting a low shot inside the far post on a counter. The best part? She blocked a shot on the other end to help set up the attack.
“She showed a lot class there on the finish. left foot, to just tuck it into the corner,” Amato said. “She did a lot of things right there, and we’re pleased with where she’s at.”
A defender who has been a key fixture in the rotation this season, Goerlinger played higher up the field Sunday to combat UC Irvine going conservative with a 5-3-2.
Arizona finished with four corner kicks and 17 shots, six of which were on frame.
“We wanted to make sure we had three up front, and with their two front runners, we thought we could play three in the back versus their two and cause some problems that way,” Amato said.
Arizona will hit the road next weekend to face No. 12 Santa Clara and San Jose State, before wrapping up non-conference at home against TCU the following weekend.
The Santa Clara contest is as close as the Wildcats will get to emulating Pac-12 play, which is why Amato, like Talley, wanted his team to avoid complacency after it jumped out to such a hot start Sunday.
“I thought getting the fourth goal was really important, and it’s important for us as a team that we keep getting better,” he said. “And if you just get comfy and sit back, you’re not going to get better on the day. ... I know what the road ahead is and sometimes players can lose sight of that. And we’ll find out Friday. That’s a real big test.”
Freshman @hopehisey31 picked up her second shutout against UC Irvine, as @ArizonaSoccer still hasn’t conceded a goal this season: “It definitely inspires a lot of confidence, and it’s just shown how good our backline is and how we’re able to keep the ball in attack.” pic.twitter.com/fPcWRf7AVr— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) September 8, 2019
Here’s Tony Amato after Arizona Soccer’s 4-0 win over UC Irvine. The Wildcats still haven’t conceded a goal this season.Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, September 8, 2019
.@jadatalley_ had a goal and two assists in @ArizonaSoccer’s 4-0 win over UC Irvine.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) September 8, 2019
She discusses UA’s 4-game winning streak, her chemistry with @brookiiew231, and the Wildcats’ adaptability. pic.twitter.com/cCqoEakDKy