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Arizona soccer finds positives in loss to No. 21 Texas Tech

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Marley Chappel
Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Arizona soccer rallied late but lost to No. 21 Texas Tech 2-1 on Thursday at Mulcahy Stadium to drop to 2-3 on the season.

Freshman Marley Chappel netted her first career goal in the 75th minute, one-timing a cross from Sabrina Enciso to make it a one-score game. The Wildcats followed it up with a pair of corner kicks but could not put home the equalizer.

“I hate losing, but I’m really proud of them,” head coach Becca Moros said. “That’s the best game we’ve played. By far the most complete performance we’ve had, the best defensive organization.”

There was no score until the 49th minute when the Red Raiders caught the Wildcats on a counter. After a pair of UA corner kicks, Arizona was pinging the ball inside Texas Tech’s box when the Red Raiders were finally able to clear it to Kirsten Davis.

The All-American forward dribbled three quarters of the pitch before unleashing a rocket past a diving Hope Hisey.

Davis was on the assisting end of Tech’s second goal, beating Enciso to a ball deep in Arizona’s box before crossing it to Ashleigh Williams, who tapped it in to give the Red Raiders a two-goal lead in the 62nd minute.

Texas Tech (6-0-1) finished with a 19-10 shot differential, but both teams generated six corner kicks. Arizona fired six shots on goal compared to Tech’s seven.

“We made a few mistakes, we didn’t capitalize on some opportunities but the score line could definitely have been different for us, and that’s the first sign of what we’re going to become,” Moros said. “In another month, we’ll be a much better team than we are now.”

Among the missed opportunities was an errant penalty kick by Jill Aguilera that would have knotted the game at 1-all in the 52nd minute. The sixth-year senior stepped up to the spot and skied her shot over the bar. She immediately cupped her hands over her face in disbelief.

“It happens,” Moros said. “I mean, if you look at the statistics of taking penalty kicks, at some point people miss. I’m sure she wants that back. I’m sure she’s frustrated about it, and she’ll take another one next time and it’ll go on the back of the net. She has some experience under her belt, so hopefully she knows how to shake that off.”

Aguilera had another prime scoring opportunity in the final minute of the first half, rifling a shot from just outside the 18. The Texas Tech goalkeeper leaped to punch it over the bar.

The Wildcats only used 17 players, as they continue to deal with mounting injuries. Chappel and Nicole Dallin were among the five players—all underclassmen—who provided a spark off the bench.

“Our bench has been outstanding,” Moros said. “All the players have been growing really quickly...and Marley has been competing well, she deserves these minutes she’s competed well in the game and earned more minutes, and obviously we’re really proud of her to get her first career goal.”

Chappel said her instructions were simple: “Make a difference.” Her goal not only brought the Cats within one, but also restored a sense of belief.

“I was running pretty fast, there’s an adrenaline rush and Sabs played it in the box,” Chappel said. “I just remember I have to get there, so I stuck my foot out, and as soon as you know it it’s the back of the net. It’s a very happy moment, very exciting. It brought the energy up with the team.”

Chappel, like Moros, was upbeat after the loss. Eventually.

“Honestly, my head hung a little low because it sucks to lose, we obviously really wanted to come out and win on our own field, but her words changed our minds,” Chappel said. “Now we’re just looking forward and not back because it happens and we’re only going to get better from here.”

The Wildcats will be back on the pitch Sunday when they host Nebraska at 1 p.m. PST. Moros expects a physical match. The Cornhuskers went step for step with ASU in a 1-0 loss on Thursday. Moros and her staff watched parts of that game from the Mulcahy bleachers.

“It’ll be a good challenge for us to see if we can control the game and the possession, and get some more offensive chances under that kind of duress,” Moros said.

So far, the Wildcats have been sporadic in those situations.

“A lot of that has to do with how we are moving off the ball and how we are passing. Are we calm enough?” Moros said. “There’s times when we get out there and it’s like this person turns the ball over and then goes someone else that they turn the ball over. And if somebody’s panicking or there’s a situation where we lose our way, how quickly can we regain our confidence and composure and be able to continue to build on the best parts of what we do? And I think obviously we saw a lot more of that tonight against a top opponent.

“We’ve really only been together for about six weeks... They’ve exceeded every expectation that I could have had, and I’m really excited to see where they are in another month.”

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