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UA Soccer, Stoian win big despite lightning delay

%09Soccer+fans+rejoice+as+the+Wildcats+score+a+goal+early+in+their+4-0+win+against+Nevada+before+the+lightning+delay+on+Friday+at+Murphey+Field+at+Mulcahy+Stadium.+The+Wildcats+scored+two+goals+before+the+lightning+delay+stopped+the+action.
Rebecca Noble

Soccer fans rejoice as the Wildcats score a goal early in their 4-0 win against Nevada before the lightning delay on Friday at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium. The Wildcats scored two goals before the lightning delay stopped the action.

Playing in its only game of the weekend at the Arizona Cats Classic, Arizona soccer (4-1-1) defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium on Friday night in a 4-0 win.

In what was a nearly sellout crowd, the fans in the stands weren’t the only thing electric in the air, as multiple weather delays due to lightning in the area forced players off the field, both before and during the game.

The night’s first delay interrupted the Arizona State and New Mexico State game that preceded Arizona’s matchup, postponing the start of that game by nearly 45 minutes.

For the Wildcats, it was worth the wait.

Arizona wasted no time getting started against Nevada as freshman midfielder and last week’s Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, Gabi Stoian, notched two goals in the game’s first 13 minutes. Stoian’s first goal came off a short corner kick from teammate Lexe Selman who found Stoian wide open for the game’s first goal in only the second minute. Just minutes later, Selman and Stoian hooked up again when Stoian got into open space on the left side of the penalty area, where Selman got her the ball to make it 2-0 Wildcats in the 13th minute.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats and everyone in the stands, the game was halted when about 17 minutes into the first half: The lightning started up again.

“I thought it started off great,” UA head coach Tony Amato said. “We had a great crowd, lots of energy. The girls came out flying, and we scored two quick goals. It looked like it was going to be a great night, and then we just lost our way. With the weather delay and the change of all that tempo, after the break, I thought Nevada had the better of the next 10-15 minutes.”

After 90 more minutes of waiting, the game finally restarted, but the long break seemed to favor the visitors, as the Wildcats struggled to regain their early momentum and the physicality of the Wolf Pack made it difficult for Arizona to build on its early lead.

Despite outshooting Nevada 25-8 in total shots and creating plenty of chances in the Nevada penalty area, Arizona could not find the back of the net again before the game’s shortened halftime.

Senior defender Mykaylin Rosenquist, who helped preserve the team’s third shutout of the early season, made note of Nevada’s toughness.

“We just tried to stay physical back there,” Rosenquist said. “They were a really physical team. … I think it was probably their best attribute. We just had to keep up with them and do what we usually do. We handled them fairly well.”

Most of the second half resembled the first 45 minutes with the Wildcats moving the ball well but being unable to find any more goals — until Rosenquist hit a perfect ball from about midfield to senior forward Ali Doller, who headed the ball past Nevada goalkeeper Devyn Bryar in the 72nd minute.

The Wildcats notched the game’s final goal with less than five minutes remaining as Stoian again found herself unmarked with the ball at her feet and put it in for the easy goal. It was Stoian’s third of the match and likely makes her a candidate for back-to-back Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week awards.

Stoian, who now has six goals in her last three games, which is tied for first in the conference as of Sunday afternoon, said the delay changed things somewhat for the Wildcats, but, in the end, they were able to stay mentally focused.

“We started off strong,” Stoian said. “After the lightning delay, we slowed down a bit but we dealt with it. We talked about [the delay] in the locker room; we’ve been in this position before, and we knew we could come back from it. We just gave it our all.”

This weekend, the Wildcats remain in Tucson for their final two nonconference games of the season when they take on Lipscomb and Idaho on Friday and Sunday at Murphey Field.

—Follow Brian Peel @_brianpeel

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