Things just keep getting better for Arizona soccer. Three days after defeating Oregon State 3-2, the Wildcats sent their four seniors out on a high note in a 4-1 victory over Oregon on senior day. It improved their unbeaten streak to five. They have gone 4-0-1 over those five matches.
“Honestly, it just felt like any other game,” said fifth-year senior Iliana Hocking. “I just try not to let it get me too amped up, but second senior day is super special. I hope this isn’t my last time playing here, but if it is, I’m really proud of the outcome and this whole season.”
Arizona got goals from Nicole Dallin (1), Jordan Hall (2), and Desiree Foster (1) on the back of 21 shots. That marked the most shots the Wildcats have taken this season. Their 11 shots on goal were also a season high.
For Dallin, it was her third goal in the past two games. She scored two against Oregon State on Thursday night. Dallin now leads the Wildcats with five goals.
Hall’s two goals gave her four on the season. She also has two assists, tying her with Dallin for a team-high 10 points.
Assists came from Sami Baytosh, Olivia Briede, and Mariah Dunn. It marked Baytosh’s team-leading fourth assist of the season, placing her third on the team with eight points.
Arizona turned its season around at the beginning of the month when the Wildcats traveled to Los Angeles to play then-No. 8 USC and No. 1 UCLA. They returned home with a victory over the Women of Troy and a 1-0 loss to the Bruins. Since the loss to UCLA, Arizona has not dropped another game.
“I think everything that we’ve slowly been doing well, we’re doing consistently better,” Arizona head coach Becca Moros said. “So where we may have had sort of peaks in the curve where we hit some of our top performances for minutes, I think we’re sustaining that for longer stretches during the game and we’re able to reestablish it when we do lose our way. And then I think the other thing is the confidence everywhere on the field means that we’re just more alert, we’re taking in more information, and we’re more efficient in that final piece of the game.”
As for whether she ever thought they would put this kind of run together, Moros said she absolutely imagined it.
“I did imagine,” Moros said. “We talked about it. I’ve always felt like we were right there and we were playing top-level football at times—well before we were able to put the wins together and get the goals—but this is what we talked about from the moment we got here last year.”
The Wildcats pulled off the win over the Ducks despite being without Megan Chelf and Gianna Christiansen. Chelf picked up a red card against the Beavers on Thursday. It opened the way for two freshmen.
“I think a little bit that was a test for us as coaches and how well we prepared the team within our style so that other people could step into that role,” Moros said. “And I think Trinity [Dorsey] and Sami have both played a lot of minutes, although they have not been much together in a starting role. Usually, one of them’s gotten the start and the other comes off the bench. So it was neat to see them play together.”
The Wildcats are hoping they have already done enough to ensure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona is assured of a winning record overall and at least a .500 finish in the Pac-12 with their current 8-6-3 and 5-4-1 records.
The Wildcats came into the weekend standing at No. 39 in the RPI before picking up wins over No. 118 Oregon State and No. 43 Oregon. If they win against ASU next week, the players think they could possibly host a game in the opening round. The Sun Devils were No. 19 before defeating Oregon and losing to Oregon State.
“I definitely [think we’ve done enough to get into the tournament],” Hocking said. “Obviously, rivalry week you want to get that win no matter what and a win would really help us and maybe get a home game, hopefully, in the tournament. But I think what we’ve done this past half of the season is just remarkable. And I think the committee should see that, recognize us, and give us those props.”