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Defense could be the difference as Arizona soccer hosts Washington

Madison Goerlinger dribbles the ball against UCLA.
Photo by Ary Frank / Arizona Athletics

Arizona soccer enters the weekend with one chance to get its first Pac-12 win of the season as they face the Washington Huskies. The Wildcats head into the match at 3-9 overall and 0-5 in Pac-12 play, but they have a good chance to break through and get some confidence over the final six contests of the season.

Washington has had a bit of a down season by record (3-6-3, 1-2-2 Pac-12), but has faced off against some of the best in the country. Early in the year, they traveled to the state of North Carolina to play Top 10 teams North Carolina and Duke. While losing to both, they had a close 2-1 match against the Blue Devils.

The Huskies are led by senior forward Summer Yates, who has seven points on the season off three goals and one assist. On the Wildcats’ side, it’s Jill Aguilera with eleven points on five goals and an assist. Aguilera is looking for one more goal to take exclusive possession of second on Arizona’s all-time goal-scoring list.

Both squads have struggled to score goals as a team. Arizona has scored 11 goals in 12 matches this season, averaging less than a goal per outing. Seven different Wildcats have found the back of the net, but only Aguilera has more than one goal this season. Madison Goerlinger is looking to get in the goal-scoring category but is second on the team with four points, all off assists.

“I don’t even know how many assists she’s had for me,” Aguilera said about Goerlinger during their last homestand. “I wish she would have had another goal tonight. She really deserves it.”

It’s a similar look for Washington, which has 12 goals in 12 matches. Eight Huskies have points off goals, led by Yates. Scoring has been a bit more distributed for UW with three players scoring multiple goals this season.

A slight difference in the offense can be seen in assists. Seven different Wildcats have set teammates up for goals with Goerlinger leading the way. Only five Huskies have assisted on a goal this season, and the leader is Ameera Hussen with two. No one else has more than one.

The major difference has come on the defensive end. Despite playing a more difficult slate, the Huskies have had more success keeping their opponents off the scoreboard. Arizona has given up 1.92 goals per contest while UW is relinquishing 1.42. As expected, the same issues show up in opponents’ shots where the Huskies allow 11.9 shots per game versus 17.4 for the Wildcats. For Washington, 41.3 percent of those shots are on goal compared to 45.9 for Arizona.

This could be an even bigger issue for the Wildcats this week. Arizona lost senior defender Sabrina Enciso last week at Oregon. Before they headed to Eugene, head coach Becca Moros said that Enciso was one of the players who was adjusting the best to the new style of play this season. She has also been a leader, helping keep the Wildcats’ back line organized.

Washington Huskies at Arizona Wildcats

Date and time: The match will be held on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. MST

Location: Mulcahy Soccer Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

TV and stats: The match will air on Pac-12 Washington. Stats are available via Arizona Live Stats.

RPI rankings: The Huskies are No. 129 in this week’s RPI. The Wildcats are currently No. 144.