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Historic offensive woes doom Arizona soccer in loss to Washington

Jada Talley
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Arizona soccer’s offense produced at a historically poor rate on Friday, only mustering three shots and four corner kicks in a 3-0 loss to Washington, their fewest number of chances since at least 2015. (That’s how far back the UA website keeps stats.)

It’s also Arizona’s first time losing by three goals to a non-California school since 2015, as well as the first time the Wildcats lost by three goals to a non-California school at home since 2013.

Star forward Jada Talley, who was held shotless for the first time since Sept. 15, 2019, shouldered the blame.

“I feel like we need to work more as a team, we need to be better, and I can take ownership on that because I haven’t really trained in three weeks,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who haven’t trained, so I don’t want to use that as an excuse at all, but that’s why I’m saying I need to take ownership. I’m probably going to be back in practice this week. So I’m just hoping that we’re able to fix our foundation, kind of mesh together better. I still feel it’s a little iffy.”

Talley and fellow senior forwards Jill Aguilera and Hannah Clifford have been limited with injuries this season, hampering Arizona’s attack and ability to build chemistry in practice. The UA roster is otherwise chock full of freshmen that they have never played with before this season.

Of the 15 field players who saw the pitch vs. Washington, seven were newcomers.

“I still feel like people are hesitant to play a big ball, a ball with some weight on it, or people are under hitting because they don’t know yet,” said Talley, who had an icepack wrapped around her ankle. “It’s still iffy, but it’s early. I think we have stuff to work through as a team. But we’re getting back to the drawing board.”

Talley agreed that the loss is “very disappointing” considering Arizona just pushed No. 4 UCLA to the brink last weekend.

“We’re not looking to shoot the ball; we’re looking for that perfect key pass,” she said. “It’s not quick, touch play. It’s taking a little longer. I know where Hannah’s run is. I know where Jill’s run is. I’ve played with them for four years. I can not look and know where they’re going to be. It’s harder for someone who hasn’t been here to know where I’m running without looking at me. So it’s a lot of that. It’s a lot of just putting emphasis on the yourself to go shoot the ball. And I’ll take ownership on that too. I didn’t really shoot the ball, so that’s my fault.”

That wasn’t an issue for the Huskies, who grabbed the lead in the 36th minute when senior Ameera Hussen turned and ripped a long shot from the corner of the 18 through UA keeper Hope Hisey. The sophomore got a hand on it, but could only deflect it into the net.

Still, the Wildcats stayed within striking distance until the Huskies (4-0-1) added an insurance goal in the 56th minute by knocking in one of their six corner kicks. They struck again in the 83rd minute after fending off a pair of UA corners, including a dangerous header by Clifford that was Arizona’s only shot on goal.

“I mean, they’re tough defensively, they keep their shape, they’re hard to break down,” UA coach Tony Amato said. “Some of the times that it looked like we were going to create an attack, they were able to sniff out and put a stop to it. So we’ve got to find ways to continue to be dynamic and attack and create more volume in our attack.”

After scoring 13 goals in four non-conference games, the Wildcats (4-2) have scored just one goal in two Pac-12 games. They are 0-2 in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2016, the last time they missed the NCAA Tournament.

When asked how much pressure there is to return to the win column on the upcoming road trip to Oregon, Amato said the focus needs to be on playing well.

“I think all of us have to take ownership and have to find ways to solve any problems that come up and improve and get better,” he said. “We’re a lot better when it’s not just me pulling people along or just a coaching staff. And I think our team understands that and they take ownership in that and they want to get better and they want to improve and you’ll see us perform better next week.”

Santos leaves the team

Junior Grace Santos has entered the transfer portal.

A center midfielder, Santos joined the Wildcats in 2019 as a transfer from William & Mary where she made the CAA All-Freshman Team.

Santos appeared in the first three games of the season, tallying an assist against GCU and a goal against New Mexico State. She had one goal last season, which came in the NCAA Tournament loss to Penn State.

Postgame interviews

Jada Talley

Jada Talley post UW

Jada Talley kept it real after Arizona Soccer’s 3-0 loss to Washington

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, March 5, 2021

Tony Amato

Tony Amato post Washington

Hear what Tony Amato said after Arizona Soccer’s 3-0 loss to Washington

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, March 5, 2021