UA soccer ready for NCAA action

Arizona+goalkeeper+Gabby+Kaufman+%281%29+kicks+the+ball+down+the+field+after+saving+a+goal+during+Arizonas+1-1+tie+against+California+at+Murphey+Field+at+Mulcahy+Soccer+Stadium+on+Oct.+26.+After+making+the+postseason+for+the+first+time+in+nine+years%2C+Kaufman+and+the+Wildcats+face+Oklahoma+State+in+the+first+round+of+the+NCAA+tournament+on+Friday.

Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman (1) kicks the ball down the field after saving a goal during Arizona’s 1-1 tie against California at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Oct. 26. After making the postseason for the first time in nine years, Kaufman and the Wildcats face Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.

Brian Peel

For the first time since 2005, Arizona soccer (10-7-2, 4-5-1 Pac-12 Conference) will be competing in the NCAA tournament when it travels to Oklahoma State to take on the Cowgirls this Friday at 1 p.m.

Last weekend, Arizona fell to rival ASU in Tempe 1-0 and at the time, looked to be at risk for making the postseason. However, Monday afternoon’s Selection Show provided good news for the Wildcats when they received an at-large bid and were matched up with Oklahoma State, a team Arizona defeated 3-1 back in September.

For UA goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman, Friday’s game should be interesting, considering how the two teams have familiarity.

“We know what they are about and how they play,” Kaufman said. “Obviously, they are going to come out flying, because they want to get revenge on us, but we know we are going to come out harder and stronger and try and take it to them.”

Fellow Wildcat Ali Doller, an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection, echoed Kaufman’s statements.

“It gives us a lot of confidence knowing we already played them, so we know what to expect,” Doller said. “It’s going to be a tough game, and it will probably be anybody’s game, so we need to come out ready to play.”

Oklahoma State is in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year and had a very difficult start to the season when it was winless in its first seven before rebounding and finishing with a final record of 10-9-1 and 5-2-1 in Big 12 play, good for second in the conference.

The Cowgirls have a number of options when attacking, with four players scoring at least three goals, including Allie Stephenson, who was named an All-Big 12 First Team member.

When Arizona and Oklahoma State faced off earlier in the season at the Sun Devil Classic, the Wildcats were led by midfielder Gabi Stoian, who scored three goals in the last seven minutes and came away with a 3-1, come-from-behind win.

Arizona head coach Tony Amato said he doesn’t expect the game to play out in the crazy fashion it did the last time the two teams met.

“When we played them before, it was an interesting game,” Amato said. “The way we won was not a typical game, and we don’t expect it to play out that way again. They have four or five very good attacking players that we have to shut down, and it’s going to be a tight match. Hopefully, we will be able to pull it out and move on to the next round.”

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