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Arizona soccer shows that the best defense is a good offense in rout of Kent State

Arizona soccer prepares for a match against Kent State on Aug. 31, 2023 at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

In a match delayed by the extremes of Arizona weather Arizona soccer used a dominant offense to shut down Kent State in a 5-0 victory at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe. Nicole Dallin, who has scored in every match this season, led a group of five Wildcats who put the ball in the net.

The match between the Wildcats and the Golden Flashes was set to start at 1 p.m. MST following a 10 a.m. match between Boise State and host team Arizona State. The game between the Broncos and Sun Devils was delayed due to lightning in the area, pushing the later game back.

When the early match finally came to an end, the second contest was delayed due to the extreme heat. It finally got underway around 2:30 p.m., roughly 30 minutes before what is typically the hottest part of the day. The teams had two water breaks in each half due to the high temperatures.

Arizona was ready when things finally got going. The Wildcats controlled the ball, with most of the possession taking place in their offensive half. Throughout the game, even small incursions by Kent State into its half were quickly stymied by the Arizona defense.

Arizona put the first points on the board in the 31st minute when Gianna Christiansen took the ball off a half-volley just outside the box and put it into the top corner. It was the only score of the opening half.

Kent State appeared somewhat rejuvenated at the beginning of the second half. The Golden Flashes were able to get the ball into their half with a bit more regularity. They just couldn’t defeat Arizona’s defense. KSU had just two shots all game with one of the two on goal.

The Wildcats took control of the game again not long into the second half. When the dam finally broke, they did quick damage beginning in the 61st minute. Arizona scored three goals in less than 10 minutes beginning with the unassisted score by Dallin.

Just two minutes later, it was sophomore Cameron Valladares scoring in the second straight match to put Arizona up 3-0 in the 63rd minute. She sent a shot in from just outside the box. It looked like it might go over the crossbar, but a late bend sent it into the net.

Last Tuesday, Arizona head coach Becca Moros spoke about the desire to score that is naturally part of Valladares’ personality.

“Cam loves to score goals,” Moros said. “You can tell from every one of our meetings, she’s just a striker through and through and she’s been that way since we were recruiting her and I’ve known her. So, I think when it comes to people and how they play the game, your own identity and your personality play a factor into what positions on the field you’re going to excel at, not just your skill level or your talent or hard work. Sometimes it’s just who you are.”

Valladares once again showed who she is on the field. The goal seemed to finally break the Golden Flashes. Their legs appeared heavier as Arizona passed the ball around them on numerous occasions as if passing around pylons in a drill.

Arizona’s next goal came off the team’s first assist of the season. Defender Ella Hatteberg served the ball to Desiree Foster in the 67th minute. It gave the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.

The final goal of the game was just eight minutes later off another assist. Marley Chappel dished the ball to Megan Chelf well outside the box. Chelf sent a rocket past Kent State’s reserve goalkeeper, who had entered the game after the third goal.

Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey played almost 71 minutes, keeping her first clean sheet of the season. She faced just one shot, which was not on goal. Hannah Mitchell finished the match. She also faced just one shot but was forced to make the Wildcats’ only save of the day.

Arizona outshot Kent State 12-2. The Wildcats put nine shots on goal compared to one for the Golden Flashes. Corner kicks were 5-2 in UA’s favor.

The Wildcats are due to take the field again on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. MST. They will once again play at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. Boise State, which tied ASU 0-0 in the early match on Thursday, will be the opponent.