clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona soccer picked to finish 6th by Pac-12 coaches

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

In Becca Moros’ first two seasons as head coach of Arizona soccer, her colleagues did not have much confidence in her team. The Wildcats were picked 10th in the 2021 Pac-12 preseason coaches poll and last in 2022. Things have changed.

The league released the 2023 poll on Monday, and the Wildcats were picked to finish sixth. It is the highest the program has been selected since 2020 when it was also picked sixth. The team finished eighth that year.

If the Wildcats can match the coaches’ prediction this year, it would be their second straight season finishing sixth. Arizona went 8-7-3 overall last season. It had a 5-5-1 record in conference play that included a big upset over USC in Los Angeles.

The Wildcats kicked off this season with an exhibition at Pepperdine on Thursday, Aug. 10. They lost 2-1 but it was an improvement over last year’s regular season loss to the Waves.

This year, sophomore midfielder Sami Baytosh picked up where she left off, finding the back of the net on an assist from Utah transfer Brooke Ahern. Baytosh had a strong freshman campaign, finishing with two goals and a team-high four assists.

UA had 10 shots, eight of which came in the second half. The Wildcats put four of those shots on goal. On defense, they gave up eight shots with four of them on goal.

The Waves scored twice in the opening 45 minutes, both against fifth-year goalkeeper Hope Hisey. The first came on the foot of Pepperdine’s Kelsey Adams in the 16th minute. The home team got an insurance goal from Skylar Enge in the 30th minute.

The second Pepperdine goal turned out to be the difference. Baytosh put Arizona on the board in the 65th minute, but the Wildcats could not overcome the early deficit.

Heading into the game Moros wanted to get experience for as many players as possible. She met that goal by getting 11 of the 19 players on the roster into the match, including backup goalkeeper Hannah Mitchell.

The Wildcats get started for real on Thursday, Aug. 17 when they travel to Iowa State. The two teams met last year in a 2-1 Arizona victory at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium. Starting next year, they will face each other as conference opponents in the Big 12.

UA is trying to get back to the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2019. If it can meet the Pac-12 coaches’ expectations, it will be the program’s highest finish since 2018 when the Wildcats finished the year 13-6-2 overall and 5-4-2 in conference play.

Defending national champion UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12. Stanford was selected second.