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Arizona Wildcats soccer goes on Oregon Trail road trip

Keenan+Turner%2FThe+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+Forward+Hayley+Silverberg+dribbles+the+ball+against+UCLA+on+Sept.+29.++The+Wildcats+lost+to+UCLA+1-2.
Keenan Turner
Keenan Turner/The Daily Wildcat UA Forward Hayley Silverberg dribbles the ball against UCLA on Sept. 29. The Wildcats lost to UCLA 1-2.

Stuck in a three-game losing streak, Arizona soccer will attempt to bounce back to its early season winning ways this weekend when it heads to the Northwest to take on Oregon State and Oregon.

The Wildcats (5-4-3) have lost their first three games of Pac-12 Conference play and four of their last five overall — though all four losses have come by way of ranked opponents.

Even with the team’s struggles, senior midfielder Jazmin Ponce says she isn’t intimidated by the Wildcats’ competition.

“People always ask me about playing ranked teams, but I really don’t care,” Ponce said. “It’s just another girl out there. I mean, I played with a lot of the same players in club, so what is the difference, just because they have a different jersey on?”

This past weekend, Arizona suffered two close losses in the Bay Area when it lost to then-No. 2 Stanford and then-No. 11 Cal, both with a score of 2-1.

With their first three Pac-12 opponents being ranked, the Wildcats finally catch a break this weekend when they play a pair of teams that have only won a combined four games the entire season, and who are tied for dead last in the conference in goals scored, with nine apiece.

On Friday afternoon in Corvallis, Ore., Arizona will face off against an Oregon State squad that — despite its 2-8-2 overall record — is still ahead of the Wildcats in the Pac-12 standings. While the Wildcats haven’t won a game in conference, the Beavers managed a 1-1 tie against Washington in their first Pac-12 game of the season two weeks ago.

Oregon State’s offense and defense have struggled mightily this season, as it is not only tied for last in the Pac-12 in goals scored, but is also last in goals allowed, with 16. The Beavers are led by senior forwards Jenna Richardson and Chelsea Buckland, who have a combined five goals this year, of the team’s nine. Last season, Richardson was named a Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team member.

The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Sunday’s game against the Oregon Ducks (2-6-3) again matches the Wildcats up with a struggling opponent, but like their rivals in Corvallis, they’ve collected a tie in a Pac-12 competition to put them ahead of Arizona in the standings.

The Ducks’ offense has been struggling all season, but of late it has been almost completely nonexistent. Oregon has only scored two goals in its past seven games and has yet to score a goal against a Pac-12 opponent. Three players are tied for the team lead in goals scored, with three, and junior goalkeeper Abby Steele is first in the conference in saves with 56 — three ahead of Arizona’s Gabby Kaufman.

After such a difficult start to their Pac-12 schedule this season, the Wildcats are in need of a successful weekend, and a positive results will surely supply a boost of confidence as well.

“As a coaching staff, we stay confident, and that will trickle down to the team as well,” said assistant coach Kylie Louw. “They are obviously disappointed with the losses, but they know how good their performances have been, and we are going into this weekend knowing that and hoping we can come back with some wins.”

—Follow Brian Peel @BrianPeel91

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