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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats edge No. 12 Santa Clara to move onto the Sweet Sixteen


Arizona women’s soccer celebrates its second win against Santa Clara this season after a 2-1 victory on Nov. 19. The Wildcats punched a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen for just the second time in program history.

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The Arizona women’s soccer team is headed to the Sweet Sixteen for just the second time in program history after beating Santa Clara in the NCAA Second Round on Thursday night in Palo Alto, California.

It was the second time that Arizona beat Santa Clara this season, as both games concluded with 2-1 Wildcat victories.

Arizona may not have been playing at home this time around, but senior forward Hannah Wong led the way for the Wildcats, nonetheless.

After a rather quiet start to the game for both sides, Wong stepped up and drilled a free kick into the top left corner of the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute.

Less than a minute later, Wong struck a shot to the nearly the same exact spot to give the Wildcats a two-goal lead.

It marked just the second time this season that an Arizona player has scored twice in the same game. The first was by Gabi Stoian, the team’s leading scorer, in the season opener.

Stoian, who missed the last four games due to a quad injury, returned to action and played 50 minutes while recording one shot.

Her return to the lineup was a boost for the Wildcats, but it was Wong’s brilliance along with impressive play by the Wildcats’ defense—which held the Broncos to just five shots in the first half—that allowed Arizona to take the 2-0 lead into halftime.

“I thought we played really well in the first half and [Wong] had two outstanding goals,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said.

The second half was the polar opposite, though.

Santa Clara had a few chances in the Wildcats’ box in the early goings of the second half, but Arizona’s defense was able to avoid any damage.

Arizona goalkeeper Lainey Burdett made an acrobatic diving save in the 59th minute, but the rebound created another chance for Santa Clara. Arizona defender Haley Silverberg cleared it to safety, however.

The Broncos continued to possess the ball and push the pace as they outshot the Wildcats 8-1 in the second half.

But it wasn’t until the 84th minute that Santa Clara would get on the scoreboard. Some cohesive passing led to an open shot for Ashley Doyle who placed it past Burdett and into the right side of the net.

It cut the Wildcats’ lead to 2-1, but the Broncos still needed another goal to keep their season alive.

Much like the beginning of the second half, the Broncos continued to push into Arizona’s territory but the Wildcats’ defense, along with a save by Burdett, would ultimately punch Arizona’s ticket into the Sweet Sixteen.

“In the second half, Santa Clara had much of the ball and we were defending with all our might,” Amato said. “We knew it would look like that in the second half, up two goals … This team is very resilient and [they battle].”

This is the furthest the Wildcats have advanced in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.

Another win would make this the deepest postseason run in program history, but the Wildcats will have to get past Stanford first.

Regardless, Arizona has already faced both teams this season. The Wildcats lost 3-2 in double overtime to Stanford in Tucson and 3-2 to BYU in a preseason exhibition in Provo, Utah.

Arizona will have to hope history doesn’t repeat itself this time.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.

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