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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona soccer looks to break .500

Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona soccer has a tough battle this weekend as it looks to maintain its winning record at home, taking on No. 3 UCLA (7-0-2) on Friday and USC (4-4) on Sunday.

“Getting the win this Friday is important because UCLA is ranked in the top three,” junior forward and midfielder Jazmin Ponce said. “It’s about taking one game at a time and being able to finish strong.”

On Friday, Arizona has a chance of breaking its seven-game losing streak against the Bruins.

Senior defender Alex Smith said the Wildcats are very familiar with UCLA’s aggressive one-on-one attacking style.

“Tactically we have been working all week on ways to beat them by taking a defensive stance,” Smith said. “We have been working on always keeping numbers behind the ball. We also worked on establishing a confrontation line, so we can start defending them early so it forces them to cough up the ball early, so we can counter attack.”

In 18 games against UCLA, Arizona won only once against the Bruins at home, during a shutout victory 1-0 in 2004. The Wildcats were shut out 12 times by UCLA in 17 losses, once losing by as many as eight goals.

In their last meeting on Oct. 21, 2011, the Wildcats took a devastating blow on the road losing to the Bruins 6-1. Ponce was the only Arizona player to score.

In the past, the UCLA and USC matches came early in the season, which proved to be a challenge due to the fast pace of Pac-12 competition, according to Smith. Since Arizona spent all week preparing for UCLA, they will take Saturday to prepare for USC.

On Sunday, the odds are still against the Wildcats, as they play against USC and try to squash a five-game losing streak to the Trojans.

In 15 matches, Arizona came away with only two victories. Both of them were shutout performances. In its latest win on Oct. 29, 2004, the Wildcats beat USC 3-0 at home. Out of Arizona’s 11 losses seven of them have been shutouts, with the largest goal deficit being six. Only one match ended as a tie after double overtime in 2006.

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