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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona soccer off to best start in program history

Rebecca Noble

The Wildcats celebrate during their game against Nevada on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.

The Arizona soccer team is now off to the best start in school history as they improved to 5-0 with a 3-0 win over Stephen F. Austin on Sunday.

Arizona head coach Tony Amato expected the Lumberjacks, his former team, to come out strong, but it was the Wildcats that set the tone early.

In the 4th minute, Alexa Montgomery fired a shot that just glanced off the post. In the 12th minute, Laura Pimienta created a turnover and passed it forward to Gabi Stoian, who then placed a beautiful ball to Hannah Wong, but Wong’s shot was off target as well.

A few minutes later, a throw in by Paige Crouch flew towards the middle of the box where Cece Bilginer tried to kick it in, but was denied by the Lumberjack goalie.

Finally, in the 40th minute, Arizona put one in the net. Hannah Stevens headed in a flip throw in from Jessica Nelson. It was Stevens’ second goal this season.

The Wildcats had plenty of scoring chances in the first half as they produced eight shots, but they only had one find the back of the net. The defense, on the other hand, held the Lumberjacks to just four shots.

The Wildcats came out with a strong performance in the first half, but they took it to another level in the second.

Stevens appeared to make it a 2-0 game in the 57th minute, but her goal was waived off because she was offsides. The Wildcats didn’t have to wait much longer before scoring a goal that would count, however.

In the 59th minute , Crouch was able to free herself from her defender and shot one into the bottom left corner of the net to make it 2-0.

Shorty after, a shot by Bilginer was remarkably saved, and the rebound trickled to Wong, who sailed a shot wide.

The Wildcats took a 3-0 lead in the 83rd minute when a well-placed corner kick by Stoian was headed in by Kennedy Kieneker for her first career goal.

The second half proved to be completely one-sided. The Wildcats’ offense was able to create 19 shots in the final 45 minutes, and had the Lumberjacks’ goalie not made some incredible saves, the game would have been even further out of reach.

The Wildcats’ defense stymied the Lumberjacks as well. Arizona collected its third shutout of their year, and held SFA to just four shots all game, none of which came in the second half. Senior Sheaffer Skadsen, the defense’s leader, once again played the full 90 minutes. It’s the fourth time in five games she has done so this season.

Freshman goalie Rachel Estopare made her first career start in place of Lainey Burdett, and though the defense made her job easy, she had a solid game in net.

Amato can’t help but be thrilled with where the team is right now after a weekend sweep in the Sun Devil Desert Classic in Tempe, as the Wildcats continue the best start in school history.

“We go into every game doing our best,” Amato said. “We put a game plan in place and we want to win the game. We played two games and were able to win them both. The team is very happy about that and so am I.”

The team will now return home for two games in the Arizona Cats Classic. The Wildcats will face Texas Tech on Friday and Pepperdine on Sunday. Both are ranked in the top 25, and Arizona will get a chance to see where they stack up against some of the nation’s best teams.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.

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