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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Soccer beats ASU in ‘turnaround’ game

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UofA vs ASU 2 to 1 double overtime UofA victory

Arizona soccer freshman Alex Smith bicycle-kicked the ball into the back of the net in double overtime to defeat rival Arizona State 2-1 at Mulcahy Stadium Friday, creating one of the greatest moments in the history of the Arizona soccer program.

For the first time ever, the Wildcats (4-11-1, 1-4-0 Pacific 10 Conference) defeated the Sun Devils (7-5-3, 0-4-1 Pac-10) in front of their hometown fans. The memories of a tumultuous season faded for at least one night as the Wildcats ended a six-game losing streak.

“”I’m speechless. That was the most thrilling thing ever,”” said Smith, whose game-winning goal was her first collegiate goal. “”This is definitely a turnaround for the program. Finally we got a win having all these people here playing against ASU.

“”I don’t know what else to say,”” she continued. “”It’s the turnaround of the program.””

As fans lingered in the stands to give the team a standing ovation, about eight former players huddled together on the field, waiting to congratulate the team after its postgame talk.

“”Amazing, I don’t think I (could) ask for a better senior gift, to beat our rivals when they thought they were the better team,”” said redshirt senior goalkeeper Devon Wharf. “”It’s a big thank-you to our (fans), we wanted to prove to them that we play for them. It’s a win for us, but it’s a win for them too.””

The victory marked the first win for co-interim coaches Lisa Oyen and John Galas since former head coach Dan Tobias stepped down for personal reasons.

“”It feels great to get our first win this way. It for sure adds a little bit of sugar on top,”” Galas said. “”We’re so proud of this group for fighting through an average second half and finding a way to win. This group has stayed together and they’re committed to each other, so it was wonderful to see them get the win.””

The Wildcats, who played a solid first half, took the lead early in the first half on a goal by redshirt junior Alex Davis in the 15th minute, which ended the team’s 462-minute streak without a goal, the longest scoring drought in program history.

Arizona dominated the ball, having possession for most of the first half. The Wildcats outshot ASU 7-4 in the first half, and took the 1-0 halftime lead as they continued to showcase the new offensive rhythm they’ve had for the last few games.

In the second half, ASU came out firing, creating several scoring chances and outplaying the Wildcats. Despite all the scoring opportunities, the Wildcats continued to keep the Sun Devils from finding the net.

But on a play where Wharf made a key save, she booted the ball past midfield when there was no Wildcat player nearby. That resulted in ASU goalkeeper Alyssa Gillmore retrieving the ball. Gillmore quickly started the offense and within 30 seconds, ASU was able to tie the game in the 85th minute on a goal by forward Courtney Tinnin.

In the overtime periods, ASU continued to attack but couldn’t find the net as Wharf continued to make crucial saves. Wharf finished the game with seven saves, giving the Wildcats a chance to set up Smith’s game winner. ASU outshot the Wildcats 17-14 for the game, but were unable to take advantage of several opportunities.

Arizona improved to 4-11-1, but must build on the emotional victory that gave the team its first Pac-10 win. The team will have its toughest challenge of the season when it travels to the Bay Area this weekend to take on California on Friday and the No. 1 team in the nation in Stanford on Sunday.

“”We’ll take it one game at a time. We’ll prepare for them just like we’ve prepared for every Pac-10 opponent,”” Galas said. “”We’re excited to play against arguably the best team in the nation.””

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