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Arizona soccer falls to No. 10 Pepperdine

TUCSON, ARIZ—Arizona’s Hope Hisey saves a goal against No. 10 Pepperdine on Sept. 11, 2022
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats hadn’t defeated a Top 10 team since Oct. 3, 2019, when they beat UCLA soccer in Tucson. They hoped to put an end to a streak of three straight losses to teams ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Top 10 by defeating No. 10 Pepperdine on Sunday afternoon.

It was not to be as the Waves finally broke through in the second half to take a 2-0 victory. It dropped Arizona to 2-2-2 overall this season. The Wildcats also dropped to 3-40-2 against Top 10 teams in program history.

“Anytime you lose, it kind of makes you feel down and it’s discouraging and makes you feel like maybe there’s more, you need to do things differently,” Arizona head coach Becca Moros said. “But at the end of the day, there were a lot of really positive things that we saw in this game. It’s probably the toughest team we’ve played so far. It’s a great test for us to get ready for the Pac-12. We think we see teams like this every game in the Pac-12, and I think it’s good for us to see where that standard is. This is a good team that’s also got a lot of momentum right now. And we’re looking to turn on momentum from the last couple of games. So I think that we saw a lot of what we could do well in the first half and the second half, I think we need to address and look at that.”

The first half was much closer in terms of shots taken. Pepperdine got seven shots while Arizona shot the ball twice in the opening 45 minutes. The Waves had 19 total shots in the match with six on goal. The Wildcats had six shots none of which were on goal, although they had several strong opportunities. Pepperdine also had the 6-2 advantage in corner kicks.

The two teams went into the half with a goalless tie.

The Waves didn’t just have an advantage in offensive stats. As has been the case for most of the season, the Wildcats had fouls pile up on their side. In the end, they were whistled for 10 fouls to just two on the Waves although Pepperdine picked up the only yellow card of the game in the 88th minute.

Those fouls would haunt Arizona. In the 56th minute, Cameron Valladares was called for a foul in the box. Pepperdine’s Carlee Giammona found the back of the net easily to put the Waves up 1-0.

“We were late defensively,” Moros said. “We were in a too expanded of a shape for how little of the ball we had, and really, you just need to compact the space while the momentum is in somebody else’s hands so then you know you’re not wasting your legs chasing from behind, and we didn’t do that. So there’s a little bit of immaturity there and lack of organization, and that’s something we can quickly address and work on in film. And then it’s just a matter of discipline to keep doing it and recognize those moments. So we got behind the play. There’s always a little bit of lunging and reaching. I know there was a tackle there. Supposedly it didn’t get the ball, but we’ll see it on film and we’ll be able to evaluate that a little better.”

Arizona had a few chances to get the equalizer. They were either whistled for offsides or the shot was off-target.

Pepperdine got an insurance goal from Tori Waldeck in the 81st minute. The Waves shot the ball three more times over the final nine minutes, but the Wildcats were unable to manage another offensive push.

Arizona will host UC Davis on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. in its final nonconference tune-up before heading into Pac-12 play at Utah on Sept. 23.