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Arizona soccer is in the postseason conversation with five games to play

What do the Wildcats need to do to stay in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament?

arizona-soccer-pac-12-preseason-coaches-poll-6th-2023 Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Arizona soccer is climbing toward where it wants to be. The Wildcats have slowly scaled the ranks of the RPI, getting closer to the position where they can be considered for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It would be a huge accomplishment in head coach Becca Moros’ second year at the helm.

“We’ve got to get to .500 in order to be eligible for any postseason whatsoever,” Moros said. “So we’re very aware that this Thursday would be our game to get to .500.”

Heading into the weekend tilts against Washington and Washington State, Arizona sits at No. 52 in the RPI. Just two weeks ago, as they headed to Los Angeles on their previous road trip, the Wildcats sat at No. 110. The split in LA helped them jump to No. 67 last week.

The 2-1 record Arizona has put together over the past two weeks also helped it creep closer to eligibility for the postseason in other ways. The Wildcats now stand at 5-6-2 (2-4 in Pac-12 play) and have that .500 record well within striking distance. It’s something they keep in mind.

“We’re aware of how many games we have left and how many we probably need to win to be in a conversation and how many we need to win to feel really good in the conversation about getting an at-large bid for the tournament,” Moros said. “So I know that’s the focus of the team. And given how we’ve been playing, we think it’s possible, but it is a tall ask to sustain that without any kind of bumps for the rest of the season. So we’re aware we have a very big challenge and I think we feel up for it and are excited about the possibility of achieving it.”

The Wildcats have five games left in the season including the trip to play Washington and Washington State. To end up at .500 or better, they need to win at least one more game than they lose. Draws do not help, but they don’t necessarily hurt Arizona, either, as long as the team ends with one more win than loss over the final handful of games.

After missing the past two tournaments, getting back to the postseason would be a huge step forward for a team that went 5-13 in Moros’ first year in Tucson. It’s something that most of the young Arizona roster has never experienced. Although the team went 9-5-1 in the delayed 2020 season that was played in the spring of 2021, they missed the truncated postseason that only included 48 teams.

That drought means that only the seniors and fifth-year players have experienced the NCAA Tournament. For sophomores like Olivia Briede, the idea of getting to go for the first time provides major motivation, but they have to focus on the things that will help them get there rather than the end goal.

“I mean, it’s huge for us,” Briede said. “If we just keep scoring goals...keep striving, working together.”

Arizona Wildcats (5-6-2, 2-4 Pac-12) @ Washington Huskies (8-3-3, 2-3-1 Pac-12)

When: Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. MST

Where: Husky Soccer Stadium in Seattle, Wash.

TV: Pac-12 Washington

Stats: Washington Live Stats

History: The Huskies have a decided historical advantage over the Wildcats with a 17-4-1 all-time record against their visitors. That includes a 4-1 win last season. Arizona has not defeated Washington since 2018.

Rankings and Ratings: Neither team is ranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll. Washington is No. 49 in the RPI, just three spots ahead of Arizona at No. 52 as of the evening of Oct. 19.

Standings: The Huskies have seven points, tying them in points with Colorado, Arizona State, Utah, and Oregon. The table lists Washington first among those five teams in seventh place. Arizona has the Wildcats with six points, placing them in 11th in the Pac-12.

Arizona Wildcats (5-6-2, 2-4 Pac-12) @ Washington Huskies (8-3-3, 2-3-1 Pac-12)

When: Sunday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. MST

Where: Lower Soccer Field in Pullman, Wash.

TV: Pac-12 Arizona

Stats: Washington State Live Stats

History: The Cougars have a 12-8-1 historical advantage including the 2-0 win last year in Pullman. However, prior to last season, the Wildcats were on a historic six-game winning streak. This will be the third straight game between the two programs that is played in Pullman.

Rankings and Ratings: Neither team is ranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll, but Washington State is appearing at No. 25 on one ballot. WSU is No. 40 in the RPI while Arizona is at No. 52 as of the evening of Oct. 19.

Standings: The Cougars have eight points. That puts them fifth in the Pac-12. Arizona has six points, placing the Wildcats in 11th in the league.

How to follow along

Follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm for all things Arizona Wildcats. For live tweets of volleyball matches and news throughout the week, follow our deputy editor @KimDoss71.