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Arizona soccer notebook: Burdett survives injury scare, Stoian hits hot streak

A few minutes into the second half in Arizona soccer’s Sunday match versus Washington, trainers rushed onto the field to tend to UA starting goalkeeper Lainey Burdett, who was down on the turf clutching her leg.

Burdett came out of the net to disrupt an oncoming run from a UW forward, but as she slid to break up the scoring threat, her leg got caught underneath her, contorting it in the process.

“I was so scared for her,” said UA midfielder Gabi Stoian. “I just saw a tackle and she wasn’t getting back up.”

ACL injuries have been rampant among Arizona soccer players in recent years, to say the least. Two Wildcats are currently sidelined with ACL tears, while several others on the roster have suffered the injury in the past.

Was this another instance of that or was it an ankle injury that was plaguing Burdett?

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know that it’s one of those two things when they’re going down with a leg injury,” said Arizona head coach Tony Amato, who rushed out onto the field with the team’s training staff.

But disaster was avoided — it was an ankle injury, the lesser of two injuries.

“I’m just a clumsy person and I tripped over myself and hurt my ankle a little bit, but it’s fine,” Burdett joked at practice Wednesday afternoon. “It was pretty bad, but I was able to go back on after getting it taped.”

Meredith Reinhardt, Burdett’s backup, was summoned into the game, but eight minutes later, Burdett was re-inserted.

“I didn’t even know why she was back in,” joked Stoian. “I thought she was hurt, but I’m glad she was able to play.”

The Wildcats lost the match 2-1, but Burdett avoiding a serious injury was a win in itself.

The injury is still hindering her as she was limited in practice this week, but she’s expected to start against No. 14 UCLA on Thursday night.

“Thankfully it was an ankle and she can work through that,” Amato said.

Stoian hits hot streak in up-and-down season

From a statistical standpoint, it’s been an up-and-down year for Gabi Stoian, who led Arizona in points the last two seasons.

Stoian, now a junior, is leading Arizona in points once again this season, tallying four goals and five assists, but her production has come in spurts.

Despite scoring 21 goals in her first two seasons with the Wildcats, Stoian was held scoreless in Arizona’s first three matches, despite the team putting up eight goals during that stretch.

However, the midfielder rebounded and quickly racked up five points — two goals and an assist — in the next three games after that.

But that successful stretch was followed up by a four-game stretch in which Stoian did not record a single point.

Amato continually says that she’s making an impact regardless of what the stat-sheet says because the extra attention she receives from defenses opens things up for her teammates, but Stoian has admitted it’s been frustrating to not be able to directly make an impact on the scoreboard.

It’s especially true since she’s been the victim of bad luck at times, either having multiple shots slam off the post, a shot sail just over the crossbar, or having an opposing goalkeeper make an unlikely save.

“Sometimes that can happen — you can hit posts, keepers can make saves and then you start to feel like ‘oh I’m never going to score,'” Amato said. “But she did a good job of staying with it and now they’re starting to go in.”

Indeed. Stoian is currently in another stretch where the points are coming in bunches. The midfielder has scored two goals and dished out two assists — a six-point total — in the last three games.

“I felt like I was able to find that space and run at the defenders like my coaches were telling me to do,” Stoian said. “For some reason I wasn’t doing it as much, so it was good that this weekend I got that out of my system.”

Despite the ups and downs of the season, Amato has been impressed by Stoian’s resiliency.

“As an attacking player sometimes you go through a drought and then you bust out of it and get a bunch of a points,” Amato said. “It’s not always a linear, consistent [stretch] where you get points every game and she did a good job of not getting down on herself and finding a way to go points.”

Arizona currently sits at 6-6-1 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12 Conference — its worst start since Amato took over as head coach in 2013 — and its two-year NCAA Tournament appearance streak is in jeopardy.

Last weekend, the Wildcats split with the Washington schools, and now they’re scheduled to host No. 14 UCLA on Thursday. Arizona has just six games to alter its postseason fate, but it’s not panicking yet.

Four of its last five losses have been by one goal, giving the team hope that those close games will start to turn in their favor as the season comes to close. 

“I think we had a good weekend,” Stoian said. “We didn’t get the win on Sunday but we know that we’re so close to winning every single game. We’re not far away and anything can happen on any given day so hopefully we get our wins.”

To win those close games, though, the Wildcats might need Stoian’s current hot streak to continue.


You can follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter for more Arizona women’s soccer coverage


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