Arizona head coach Becca Moros often talks about how possession style is the prettiest form of soccer. It is definitely pretty, but it has its risks. Those risks cost the Wildcats dearly in a 2-0 loss at California on Thursday afternoon.
The Wildcats spent much of the game dominating possession in their attacking third of the pitch. In the second half, two times they didn’t do so ended with Cal’s Ari Manrique finding the back of the net.
In the 53rd minute, senior defender Sarah Rice was dribbling the ball in front of the box. A mistouch of the ball left it at the feet of Manrique, who chipped the ball over the head of Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey. With Hisey well off her line, it easily fell into the net to give the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead.
Manrique again dispossessed an Arizona defender trying to dribble the ball up the field just outside the box in the 77th minute. This time she slotted it perfectly to get the insurance goal.
Arizona went into halftime with a lead both in shots (4-2) and shots on goal (3-2). California had a large advantage (8-3) in corner kicks.
The Wildcats came out of the half aggressively and controlled play for long periods, but they couldn’t find the space they needed to take the lead.
Arizona ended with a 9-5 lead in shots, but all five of Cal’s shots were on goal. The Wildcats also put five shots on goal, but the Bears’ defense turned all five of them back. Four of the five were saved by Cal goalkeeper Teagan Wy.
Hisey had three saves, improving her career total to 321. That puts her 24 behind Jen Weibel (1994-96) for the Arizona record with 9 matches left in the regular season.
The Wildcats (4-3-3, 1-1 Pac-12) next face the formidable task of playing their final conference match at No. 3 Stanford. The Cardinal host Arizona on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. MST.