Texas Tech soccer still hasn’t lost a match this season, but they couldn’t manage a sixth win. The Arizona Wildcats salvaged a 1-1 draw on Thursday evening at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium due to the heroics of goalkeeper Hope Hisey.
Hisey made five saves in the match, tying her for second all-time with Gabby Kaufman (2012-14) on the Arizona career saves list. Hisey and Kaufman both have 306 saves over their careers.
Hisey now needs 39 saves to tie all-time saves leader Jen Weibel (1994-96). She is moved by being in the running for a record that has stood for so long.
“I wasn’t even born then,” Hisey said. “And so, I like to think about those that came before us that kind of kept this program here and put us on the map...It’s a culmination of all the moments and individuals that have come and put in the hard work here. And so, it’s an honor to be able to be in the conversation with people like that.”
To get to 306 saves, Hisey had to once again make some huge plays. She faced her third penalty kick of the season in just the eighth minute of the game. She has saved all three.
It wasn’t just the PK save that was so vital for Arizona. The Wildcats failed to clear the ball following the penalty and Hisey had to come up with another save off the rebound. As a goalkeeper, a team captain, and a defensive leader, it wasn’t what she wanted to see.
“Every PK that is up against me, I assess it and try to get myself the best chance to save it,” Hisey said. “And so that’s what I did. It worked out and then I was getting on my teammates because honestly, when a goalkeeper saves a PK, their defenders should be there to clear the ball and they weren’t there. And so, I just had to get up and set and just rely on my muscle memory and my instincts that I train every day, every week, and make that second save. And then afterwards you kind of yell at them, tell them that it has to be a bit better.”
The rebound and the fact that Arizona is giving up so many penalty kicks early in the season are concerns for head coach Becca Moros.
“I’m concerned about anything that leads to chances against us,” Moros said. “I mean, it’s a handball on a ball that popped up towards [Nyota Katembo’s] face. It’s a learning opportunity for her. And sometimes handballs happen. I think you try to avoid them. You try to learn how to use your hands in a way to hide them or do different things or keep them close to your body, but if it’s outstretched it’s a penalty. From my vantage, it’s hard for me to see. I can’t tell really what it hit, but the ref was right there. So, her arm was up and it’s a PK, which is lucky Hope is tremendous in there. And the second save from Hope was possibly more impressive than the first. So, I would have liked one of our defenders or somebody else to clean that up instead of her being called on twice and in a situation where she should never even make one save.”
Moros credits the number of penalties they’re being assessed to the inexperience of the back line. As they gain that experience, she hopes to see that decrease.
The Wildcats took a while to come alive. The Red Raiders, who came in averaging 3.67 goals per game, scored in the 16th minute when Sam Courtwright put it in the bottom right of the net off the assist from Macy Blackburn.
The UA offense outshot TTU 15-12, but it didn’t find the equalizer until the 62nd minute when Sami Baytosh scored her first of the season. It came off the assist by Aranda Hurge.
“It started with a corner, and then like deflected,” Baytosh said. “Aranda got it, and she took it down line. Dribbled, crossed it back, and I was just there in the middle waiting for it.”
The game was physical. Arizona was assessed nine fouls while TTU was whistled for four. Each team was given a yellow card in the 72nd minute after a dangerous collision between Red Raider Taylor Zdrojewski and Wildcat Megan Chelf near midfield. After the initial whistle, Zdrojewski forcefully kicked the ball away in what appeared to be showing up the official, but he did not show her the red card.
“They’re a big team,” Baytosh said. “It was pretty physical. They’re just strong and aggressive, but we just fight back.”
The Wildcats move to 2-1-3 on the season as they prepare for their penultimate pre-conference game. They will face Utah State on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. MST at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium. The high temperature in Tucson is expected to be 107 degrees on game day.