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Arizona soccer prepares for exhibition at Pepperdine without defender Mariah Dunn

Arizona defender Mariah Dunn (17) against NMSU in a spring game on Feb. 25, 2023
Photo by Madison Farwell / Arizona Athletics

The Arizona soccer team is looking forward to finally getting to face another squad as they head to Malibu to play Pepperdine. One player who was expected to be an important part of the team won’t take the pitch, though. Fifth-year defender Mariah Dunn recently suffered an injury and will miss her final year of college soccer.

“I did recently tear my ACL, so I won’t be in consideration for the back line this season,” Dunn said. “But I think they’re looking at one of the freshmen, Aranda [Hurge], to step in to fill my role, and I think that so far, she’s done a really good job of emerging and being able to do what she needs to do to stand out.”

Dunn will have surgery in October. She will complete her undergraduate degree in political science and then move on with her life after college. She will, however, be on the sidelines doing what she can this season.

“I think that that role is a hard role to play just because I am so used to obviously being on the field, but I think that it’s going to be a great learning piece for me,” Dunn said. “And I’m grateful that I get to kind of help coach in a sense because I think that I have a lot of great experience and tools that I can help Aranda, for example, who might be taking my place...I can help her kind of navigate through that.”

Last year, Dunn appeared in all 18 of Arizona’s matches and started 15 of them. She played the third-most minutes on the team.

The loss of Dunn means that Arizona is without two players who could be playing their fifth season for the Wildcats and a third who would be a sophomore defender. Former midfielder/defender Madison Goerlinger initially announced that she wasn’t going to play her fifth season of college soccer before she changed courses and enrolled as a graduate student at UC Irvine. Goerlinger played centerback last year. Meanwhile, would-be sophomore defender Angela Baron is currently at the FIFA Women’s World Cup with Colombia after turning pro after last season.

The Wildcats will return one of their most important defensive leaders in goalkeeper Hope Hisey. Hisey is playing her fifth season of college soccer after deciding to take advantage of the extra year offered by the NCAA due to the pandemic.

Like all of her teammates, Hisey wants to push the program forward after a heartbreaking loss at the end of last season that likely kept the team out of the NCAA Tournament. She has some possible program records she could set this year if things go right.

Hisey needs at least six shutouts to tie Lainey Burdett in the Arizona record books. She has had at least six in three of her four seasons with the Wildcats. The current Arizona keeper said that Burdett has had the biggest impact on her as a Wildcat, so it would be an honor to reach that milestone.

She and her teammates will get their feet wet against the Waves on Thursday, Aug. 10 in their only exhibition of the season. There will be no way to view the match, but in-game stats will be available at Pepperdine Live Stats.