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Arizona soccer opens Pac-12 play with loss to Utah

Gianna Christiansen (2)
Photo by Madison Farwell / Arizona Athletics

One of Arizona soccer’s two wins in Pac-12 play last year came against Utah. The Wildcats will have to find wins somewhere else this season as they dropped their opening match by a score of 2-1 in Salt Lake City on Friday evening.

It was the third straight trip to Ute Field that ended without a win for Arizona. The Wildcats have gone 0-2-1 in Utah over the past four years. Their lone win during that period came in Tucson last season.

The visitors started off as if they were going to spoil Utah’s alumni night festivities. They got a breakaway in the eighth minute, but Sami Baytosh’s pass caught Gianna Christiansen offsides.

It wasn’t long until the two hooked up again, though. In the 14th minute, Baytosh’s assist again found Christiansen. Christiansen put the ball past Utah’s Evie Vitali and grabbed the 1-0 lead for Arizona with the first goal of her career.

It marked Baytosh’s second assist of the season, tying her with sophomore Maddy Koleno for the team lead in assists. The freshman leads the Wildcats in goals (2) and points (6).

Arizona couldn’t hold its lead. Less than eight minutes after the Wildcats scored, Taliana Kaufusi was able to grab the equalizer for the Utes.

Utah got the go-ahead score in the 54th minute. Maryn Granger scored on the assist by Madeline Vergura, putting the Utes up 2-1.

Arizona had several chances late in the second half, but it was an exercise in futility. What looked like a prime opportunity less than 25 seconds after Utah’s second goal was whistled as offsides on Arizona. Quincy Bonds had a breakaway opportunity in the 84th minute but rushed the shot just a touch. Megan Chelf’s shot was off in the 87th minute, and the Wildcats could not get anything from the two corner kicks they earned in the final minute of the game.

Coming into the match, Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey needed just one save to tie for fifth in Arizona’s career saves record. She got that in the 23rd minute and ended the night with three saves, putting her in fifth outright.

Utah led in most statistical categories. The Utes had 12 shots to the Wildcats’ seven and put five of them on goal to Arizona’s two. Arizona had four corner kicks to Utah’s three, but it also had 12 fouls to six by the home team. Both teams were given a yellow card.

Arizona returns home to face Stanford on Thursday, Sept. 29 before hosting California on Sunday, Oct. 2.