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Defense lets Arizona soccer down in opening loss to Iowa State

It’s back to practice for Arizona soccer to get ready for GCU after the loss to Iowa State.
Photo by Madison Farwell / Arizona Athletics

It was turnabout for Iowa State against Arizona. Last year in Tucson, the Cyclones went ahead 1-0 only to have the Wildcats come back and win 2-1. This year in Ames, it was UA taking the early 1-0 lead only to be let down by its defense in a 2-1 loss.

Prior to heading to ISU, Wildcat head coach Becca Moros and her players talked of coming out slowly against Pepperdine in their only exhibition. It happened again against the Cyclones.

Iowa State was ready from the opening whistle. For the first five minutes, the ball stayed firmly in the Cyclones’ offensive third of the field. At the end of the seventh minute, ISU had a corner kick and four throw-ins compared to just one of each for UA.

The Iowa State defense was under pressure for about two minutes, and it finally got to them. After a shot by Arizona’s Desiree Foster was blocked, the ball ended up on the foot of senior forward Nicole Gallin.

Gallin didn’t get firm contact, but she didn’t need to. With ISU goalkeeper Avery Gillahan off her line, Gallin softly tapped the ball toward the goal. Gillahan couldn’t get back and her defenders didn’t respond quickly enough. The ball slowly rolled into the goal to put the Wildcats ahead 1-0 in the 10th minute.

Arizona didn’t hold the lead for long. Iowa State got the equalizer roughly 9.5 minutes later. Things stayed relatively even through the rest of the first half with the Cyclones having possession about 55 percent of the opening 45 minutes.

Both teams picked up their offense in the second half, but Arizona couldn’t break through and put one in the net. More worrisome were several breakdowns on defense. The Wildcats failed to clear the ball cleanly numerous times, but they were able to recover.

Then, a foul in the box put ISU’s Mira Emma on the spot in the 30th minute. She took a solid shot at the goal, but Hope Hisey made a better save to keep the game tied.

The inability to clear the ball cropped up again. Eventually, Arizona wasn’t able to respond. Hisey save a shot by Salome Prat, but she wasn’t able to corral it. Abigail Miller scored on the rebound to give ISU the 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute.

Iowa State outshot Arizona 8 to 7 with both teams shooting 5 times in the second half. The Cyclones also earned more corner kicks by a count of 5-3. The Wildcats led in saves with a 4-2 advantage.

Arizona will return to Tucson for its home opener against Grand Canyon on Thursday, Aug. 24.