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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats head north to take on Lumberjacks

Following a pair of opening weekend wins, Arizona women’s soccer will look to improve to 3-0 on Friday in Flagstaff against NAU. It will be the first road trip of the season.

The Lumberjacks, who finished 12-6-4 and won the Big Sky Conference last season, should present a challenge for Arizona.

NAU returns eight of its starters from last year’s team, including five all-conference selections. However, the Lumberjacks did lose 3-2 against Grand Canyon University in their season opener.

Historically, Arizona has fared extremely well against NAU. The Wildcats are 7-0-2 all-time against the Lumberjacks and won last year’s matchup in a 1-0 dogfight that was decided in the 87th minute.

For Arizona to continue its perfect record against NAU, it will need to continue to build off the offensive success it has had through the first two games.

The offense is averaging 18.5 shots per game while scoring a conference-leading six goals in the process. Their shot percentage has also increased nearly 7 percent since the end of last season.

Sophomore forward Gabi Stoian is again leading the team in scoring, as she already has three goals, tied for the conference lead. She also leads the conference in points with seven.

Her fast start resulted in her being named the Pac-12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

To make matters more impressive, this is a feat she accomplished while nursing a sore ankle.

Meanwhile, fellow forward sophomore Charlotte Brascia is tied for the conference lead in assists with two.

The offense has been fantastic but the defense has been strong as well. They have only given up five shots on goal in the first two games and just 11 shots total.

Only one of those shots has found the back of the net. Head coach Tony Amato said freshman goalie Lainey Burdett has done a good job of not only making the big saves, but also managing the game.

As well as Arizona has played in its first two games, it still has some things to sort out, specifically at the midfield position.

Sophomore Cali Crisler and junior Lexe Selman were both injured in the season opener and have not returned to action since.

In fact, Amato said on Sunday that Selman is likely out for the season with a serious knee injury. The team will need someone to fill her absence going forward.

“The initial signs would say that [Selman] is probably going to miss the season, and we’re going to have to have some players fill and step up, which we had tonight,” he said after the win against Santa Clara.

Injuries and all, Amato has still liked what he’s seen early on in the season.

“We’re 2-0,” Amato said emphatically. “It’s hard to win games, and we’ve had some setbacks in terms of injuries and what we want to see out of the team. But we’re 2-0 and that’s a great way to start the season, and we can build off that moving forward, so we’re pleased”.

There wouldn’t be a better way to build off of it than to win a road game against a formidable NAU team. But if last season’s matchup between these teams is any indication of how the game will play out, it will be no easy task.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.

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