Arizona Wildcats

Arizona Advances with a 3-0 Win Over Denver in NCAA First Round

(Tucson, AZ)  Troy Hutchison

Friday night Arizona hosted ten seed Denver for the first round of the NCAA tournament game. The winner goes on the road to Knoxville Tennessee to take on the two seed Tennessee Volunteers next weekend.

As the night began there was a feeling of excitement in the stadium with what felt like the largest crowd of the season for Arizona.

The game started off with a slow start from the Wildcats, who just could not seem to find any offensive rhythm going early in the match.

Denver played the type of game they wanted coming into Tucson. They didn’t allow many clear shots on goal for the Wildcats, who really had to settle for some poor looks most of the first period of the match.

The match went into the locker room tied at zero, but had plenty of thrills and heart stopping moments for the fans in the stands. Denver had a few breakaways in the first period that would have really shifted the momentum in their favor. The momentum saving play was made from freshman defender Hallie Pearson who stopped a Denver forward from scoring on a wide-open net at the very last possible second.

Hallie spoke about how she was prepared for moments like that. She said, “one of the things we have been working on this week is Tony would have us take a knee and as the play went on we would have to sprint back, and defend as fast as we could and not give up so that’s what I was doing on that play.”

So, as both teams went into the locker-room, even though the score was tied at zero there was a sense that Arizona had some momentum on their side at the end of the period.

The Wildcats would come out on all cylinders the next period scoring two quick goals in a five-minute span in the 52nd and 57th minute of the game.

The two goals came from Arizona’s Kennedy Kieneker and Amanda Porter.

The first goal of the match came from senior mid fielder Kennedy Kieneker playing in her final home game at Arizona. she explained, “I just saw Jill crossing the ball, and I know if Jill is crossing I’ve got to get on it because its always a good cross from her. So, I did what I could to get in the box and just got a foot on it.”

Later, Arizona added another goal from Kelcey Cavarra in the 73rd minute to put the Cats up 3-0, where the second half completely flipped offensively for the Cats.

The flow of the game seemed to come much easier for the Cats in the second half and it showed with Arizona out shooting Denver 13 to 3 in the second period.

Head coach Tony Amato had this to say about the teams effort in the second period, “We created more chances, I think the first period we spend a lot of time kind of sticking at it wearing them down, and the second period was just waves of pressure that eventually we broke through, and once we did, once you score the goal it changes things.”

One noticeable thing from Friday nights game was the crowd and how they played a part in the Arizona victory. The crowd was a factor for the Wildcats, and Amato said this about the attendance, “It was unbelievable, right when the game was over a bunch of our players said, oh the drums were amazing, the crowd was amazing and we knew it was going to be a tough game and you’ve got to have support out there and the Tucson community has been awesome to us all season and tonight was not different.”

Arizona will now play the Tennessee Volunteers next week November 15th in Knoxville, Tennessee. A game time has not been announced yet for that game.

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