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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona soccer: Wildcats to head north to face last-place Oregon, Oregon State

Alex McIntyre

Arizona forward Charlotte Brascia (10) fires off a kick in last season’s game against Oregon State at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium Oct. 25, 2015. The Wildcats take on both Oregon schools this weekend.

Looking at the Pac-12 Conference standings, one might think the Arizona soccer team will be facing lighter competition than usual this weekend when it heads north to face Oregon and Oregon State on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.

After all, Oregon sits at 6-8-1 on the season while Oregon State is 5-8-2, and both teams are 0-6 in Pac-12 play—tied for dead last in the conference standings.

It sounds like two easy games, right? Not exactly.

“All the Pac-12 games are hard,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said. “It’s on the road and—you look at the next game at Oregon—they’ve played the four California schools and Utah and Colorado on the road, so they’ve had a tough run of it early and I know that they were probably hoping that they could get a win or two in that stretch. If not, they go, ‘Oh, we have the Arizona schools at home,’ and they’d want to think they can pick up those wins. So we have to be ready.”

Arizona is struggling in its own right. The Wildcats are 6-7-1 on the season with a 1-5 Pac-12 record, and have lost six of their last seven matches.

Arizona lost to the visiting No. 12 UCLA Bruins, who escaped Tucson with a 2-1 victory in double overtime a week ago.

RELATED: Notebook: Burdett, defense shine vs. Bruins, Cavarra emerges and questionable calls hurt Wildcats

Amato said forcing extra time against a top-flight team like UCLA was encouraging — especially given the way the Wildcats defended the Bruins, holding them to just eight shots. But he was still hoping for a better result.

“I think we can turn it into a positive in terms of the good things we did in the game, and how that can help us beat Oregon on Thursday,” Amato said. “But you want to win every game you play and just because you haven’t had success against UCLA as a program and you played them close, it doesn’t feel like that was a huge success, especially when you give up two goals. And you feel like you could have prevented them and gotten out of there with a better result.”

Close losses like the one suffered against UCLA have been the theme of Arizona soccer this season. Five of its seven losses have been by just one goal, including all but one (at USC) of its Pac-12 losses.

“The season’s so short and condensed, it happens so fast,” Amato said. “Last year, we got some momentum and some little breaks went our way and things happened that carried us through the season. This year, it hasn’t gone that way.”

The Wildcats don’t have much time to turn things around.

With only five games left in the season, Arizona will need to put together a winning streak in a hurry if its NCAA Tournament streak is going to continue.

“We got to try to finish with a positive record,” Amato said. “You never know, if we got on a run and got some momentum and won all five games, we would be in the tournament. So, I think we have to start with winning the next game.”

The Wildcats have made it into the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons—making the Round of 32 in 2014 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2015. They’re hoping Thursday is the beginning of a late-season run to make it three appearances in three years.

There aren’t any easy wins in the Pac-12, as Amato noted—though playing two last-place teams at this juncture certainly can’t hurt.

Kickoff against Oregon in Eugene is set for 4 p.m, and then Arizona will travel to Corvallis to face Oregon State on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Wildcats have won two straight matches against Oregon and three straight matches against Oregon State.

You can follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter. For past women’s soccer coverage, click here.

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