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Arizona soccer falls to No. 21 Gonzaga in final pre-conference game

Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey prepares before a game against Texas Tech on Sept. 7, 2023. Mulcahy Soccer Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.
Photo by Rebecca Sasnett / Arizona Athletics

Saturday was a day for a huge upset in college soccer. Arizona (3-2-3) just wasn’t the team pulling off that upset. While Utah State—a team the Wildcats beat just last Sunday—was defeating No. 1 Brigham Young, the Wildcats found little room to operate against No. 21 Gonzaga in a 3-1 loss.

Texas Tech, which played Arizona to a draw last week, went into the week receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll. Other than the Red Raiders, no one on the Wildcats’ nonconference schedule has been getting the coaches’ attention—until they reached the game with the Bulldogs (7-1-1). It was definitely a step up in competition.

The Bulldogs were dominant both in possession and the level of threat they posed. They took 17 shots compared to Arizona’s seven. They had 11 corner kicks while the Wildcats took just one.

Arizona took quality shots when they were able to create chances, though. Six of the Wildcats’ seven shots were on goal. Of the 17 shots launched at the goal by Gonzaga, seven were on goal.

The Bulldogs began putting pressure on the Arizona defense early. They had taken five corner kicks before the first 10 minutes of the match had passed.

They broke through in the 18th minute with Giana Riley getting one past Wildcats’ goalkeeper Hope Hisey in the 19th minute. It came off the assist by Kelsey Oyler.

Oyler continued her creative play. In the 33rd minute, she once again assisted a teammate. This time, Marissa Garcia put the point on the board for her team. Arizona had a 2-0 deficit to make up heading into the half.

Halftime forced the Bulldogs to work to re-establish their control of the game again. It didn’t take long. The home team had its third goal as the 72nd minute faded away.

The Wildcats had several slow starts early in the season that took them as long as a full half to get their feet under them. Their first game against a ranked opponent replayed that old tune. It took until the 75th minute, but Arizona finally smashed through the barrier over the net. Sophomore Cameron Valladares scored her third goal of the season.

It was too little too late for the Wildcats on Saturday, but they will have another opportunity to get a win over a ranked opponent very soon. The Pac-12 currently has four teams in the United Soccer Coaches top 25.