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Looking for first winning streak, Arizona soccer to host high-powered Gonzaga in non-conference finale

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Photo by Simon Asher/Arizona Athletics

Arizona soccer coach Becca Moros says that in order to be considered a winning team, you must be able to string several victories together.

“Back to back to back to back,” she said.

By that measure, the Wildcats are falling short. They are 3-3—not exactly a losing team, either—with all three of their wins succeeding a loss.

Their schedule has done them no favors. They have faced a ranked team on each of the past two Thursdays, followed by an unranked team on Sunday. Predictably, they split those weekends.

Of course, their own inconsistency hasn’t helped them, either.

“I would say that our progress has been very consistent, our understanding of things that we need to do is getting better and better, and that that sort of that consistency has been there,” Moros said. “But in terms of our consistency of being able to perform minute after minute at the best of our ability, that’s where we’ve had some breakdowns.”

Maybe this week will be different?

Coming off a 3-2 win over Nebraska—Arizona’s first victory over a major-conference team—the Wildcats welcome Gonzaga to Mulcahy Stadium on Thursday to wrap up the non-conference season. The Bulldogs are one of the best teams in the West, entering the match 7-1 with a gaudy 29-3 goal differential.

Moros described them as a “well trained, well coached, organized” squad. Unlike Arizona, Gonzaga has been able to string wins together. Five straight, to be exact.

“They have a comprehensive philosophy, they’re consistent in their performances,” Moros said. “All things that we’re also aspiring to be.”

Entering its sixth week together, Moros doesn’t think her squad is far off. Their passing has noticeably improved over the past couple weeks.

“I like to think we’re at a place where that starts to become very realistic for us to consistently be in every game and be winning games weekend after weekend,” she said. “But I think that this will be a real challenge for us. And so we’ll have to prove that we’re at level and at that place in our growth.”

Defender Sabrina Enciso and goalkeeper Hope Hisey said the keys to an Arizona win Thursday are the same as they have been all season.

“Just continuing to work on building out of the back because we know that with Gonzaga, if we can break through their initial pressure, it opens a lot of spaces for us up front,” Hisey said. “So just being composed back there, and it should be okay.”

A win Thursday would not only give the Wildcats their first winning streak of the season, but also provide a jolt of confidence heading into the always-difficult Pac-12 season.

“It’ll definitely set the tone,” Enciso said.

Moros says low attendance is result of a “marketing issue”

The Wildcats are hoping attendance numbers jump at Mulcahy on Thursday. Their matches last week vs. No. 21 Texas Tech and Nebraska only yielded a total of 325 fans.

Moros called it a “marketing issue.”

“I got here about eight weeks ago, six weeks ago we started preseason, so I haven’t really had time to do marketing and work with the marketing team,” she said. “Our marketing team obviously has other sports that it’s also working with, so if you don’t push and ask for what you need, then our marketing effort went pretty much to non-existent.

“And if people don’t know you’re playing, and you’re not making announcements and things about it, and social media is not robust and reminding people, and people don’t plan their weekends or weekdays around it, then you’re not going to have fans. So until the marketing effort gets equal to what it was before, we can expect that there won’t be as many fans.”

As you’d expect, the players would prefer to play in front of a packed house.

“I think the funnest games to play are the ones that there’s lots of people there,” Hisey said. “I just remember my freshman year the type of numbers that we were seeing at games. Obviously I think COVID, the new coaching staff, and that transition has a lot to do with the dip in fans that we’re seeing.

“I would also say that I think the athletic department needs to market our team better and needs to make sure people are aware that games are going on, and make sure that they’re creating a fun environment for people to want to come out.”

At the same time, Hisey is grateful for anybody that shows up.

“Just seeing your friends and family out there is important,” she said. “I think we have to keep in mind that we literally played last year with no fans. So...even though it’s not the numbers we’d like, it’s still better than it was a year ago.”

Thursday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MST on Pac-12 Insider. You can purchase tickets for as low as $5 here.


Full interviews

Becca Moros

Hope Hisey and Sabrina Enciso