Beating a good team twice in one season is never an easy task, and the Arizona women’s soccer team is well aware of this as they prepare to take on Santa Clara for the second time this year.
According to The Daily Wildcat, the women’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after defeating Northern Colorado by a score of 2-0 last week at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium.
Next up for the Wildcats is Santa Clara, a perennial women’s soccer powerhouse that will be looking to avenge a 2-1 loss to Arizona in August. While beating the Broncos is never an easy task, reinforcements are on the way for Arizona as leading scorer Gabi Stoian is set to return after missing the last four games with a quad injury.
“We didn’t let the history of Santa Clara — that [it has] won a lot of games over the past 29 years that Jerry [Smith] has been the coach — bother us,” said Arizona head coach Tony Amato.
Despite their impressive performance in the first game against Santa Clara, Amato knows that the rematch will be more difficult than fans may assume.
“It’s a totally different game,” Amato said. “It’s the NCAA Tournament. It’s a different situation. We played the first weekend of the season, we played at our place and both teams were still trying to find their way a little bit.”
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Santa Clara earned the right to a rematch with Arizona after defeating Long Beach State by a score of 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Over 209,000 high school girls play soccer across the country, but only the best of the best make it to esteemed programs like Arizona and Santa Clara. Wildcat midfielder Jaden DeGracie expects a fiercely-contested match between two talented teams who are each looking to advance in the most prestigious tournament of the year.
“I expect that it’s going to be a really hard game because they’re a very good team,” DeGracie said. “But we beat them early in the season and we can do it again. We know that we can battle with them when we play our best.”
The much-anticipated showdown between Arizona and Santa Clara will kick off on Thursday at 5:30 p.m at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. The winner will play against the victor of the Stanford/BYU game on Nov. 27.