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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Undefeated Wildcats to take on Texas Tech and Pepperdine in top-25 matchups

Rebecca+Noble+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AArizonas+3-1+win+against+Lipscomb+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+19%2C+2014.
Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildca
Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat Arizona’s 3-1 win against Lipscomb on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

The Arizona soccer team is off to the best start in school history after winning its first five games of the season. 

The Wildcats will put their perfect record on the line this weekend when they face two difficult opponents in the Arizona Cats Classic, hosted by the UA. 

Arizona opens the weekend tonight at 7 with a match against No. 18 Texas Tech before facing No. 14 Pepperdine on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. 

The impressive start to the season has put the Wildcats in the national spotlight, as they’re starting to grab the attention of other programs across the country.

“Other programs will definitely take notice,” Pac-12 Network play-by-play commentator Daron Sutton said about Arizona. “And I think what they’re noticing is … how their veteran defense is allowing what’s a good attack to be even more dangerous.”

Arizona has taken 88 shots and scored 14 goals this season, yet at the same time, the Wildcats have only allowed 30 shots and one goal to their opponents.

A balanced attack has been the calling card for the Wildcats, who currently have 39 votes in the NSCAA poll. This puts them right outside the national rankings at No. 26 in the country. 

The program has not been ranked in the top 25 for nearly a decade, but reaching that status isn’t a huge concern for head coach Tony Amato right now.

“I mean, I’d rather be ranked than not be in the discussion at all, but ultimately it’s about trying to win each game, and we want to make sure that we’re ranked at the end of the season,” Amato said. “We would hate to celebrate being ranked early in the season or having the best start in school history if we weren’t able to finish it off throughout the year.”

The Wildcats have a perfect opportunity to prove themselves on the national stage when playing two ranked teams this weekend.
Arizona opens up against a very difficult Texas Tech team that Amato believes could test Arizona offensively.

“They play a 4-4-2 box midfield and it’s definitely challenging to play against that system,” he said. 

Texas Tech has the talent to go along with its complex style. 

The Red Raiders are led by reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Janine Beckie. 

Beckie, who has played with the Canadian national team, is one of the best players in the country, according to Amato. 

“We’ll have to embrace the challenge and be at our best if we’re going to get the result [we want],” Amato said. 

Pepperdine, on the other hand, tied Virginia, the top-ranked team in the country, 2-2 in its last match.

“They’ve always been really good,” Amato said. “Tim Ward, their [head] coach, has done a great job there. They always have good players and he gets them organized. They have a defensive scheme that is able to stop some of the best teams in the country. If you can score two goals against the No. 1 team in the country, then you know you have some dangerous players.”

Playing against two ranked teams in one weekend is no easy task, but it’s something Amato believes will help the Wildcats prepare for the rest of the season.

“Honestly, this is what a Pac-12 [Conference] weekend looks like, when you play two top-25 programs [in one weekend]. … We know it will help us prepare for our Pac-12 season.”


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.


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