Arizona football depth, determination to be tested by No.17 LSU at Tempe
Among the many differences Becca Moros between college and professional football, student-athletes must play two games in a weekend. The condensed schedule cuts travel costs, yes, but is expensive in other ways.
“More weeks of a game would be better for all teams,” said the rookie head coach. “For health, for the ability to build your team and keep everyone fit and competitive, and, you know, improve overall performance.”
The Arizona Wildcats (1-1) have been lucky so far, making four appearances, including two exhibitions, in four weeks. Things will pick up considerably this weekend in Tempe when they face No.17 LSU (4-0) and Cal State Northridge (1-3) on Thursday and Sunday in the annual Sun Devil Desert Classic.
This will be a preview of a typical Thursday-Sunday setup in the Pac-12. It remains to be seen how the Wildcats handle a heavier workload. They’re already stoned like that. Moros said only 20 of their 28 players will be available due to injury.
Among the hindered players, the starting defender Sarah Rice and titular midfielder Iliana Hocking, who twisted his hamstrings during warm-ups ahead of the NAU game last Friday.
Arizona will also have to contend with the scorching heat of Tempe, where temperatures could hit triple digits. Thursday morning against LSU kicks off at 1 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 network.
“It’s going to be pretty brutal,” said the main defender Ava mccray.
“Yes, it’s definitely preparing your body, absorbing the calories you need, hydrating, stretching and all that,” added the junior midfielder. Madison Goerlinger.
It is possible that the 20 players available can see the field. This is exactly the number of players who played the last time the Wildcats participated in the Sun Devil Desert Classic, even though it was in 2019 with a different coaching staff.
Moros has been liberal with her substitution patterns so far, so she doesn’t expect any major changes in the rotation.
“I feel like I’m replacing a lot,” she said. “I also try to be respectful that the players actually need a while to get into the game, so I’m not begging to send someone for five minutes and then take them out again.”
LSU will be Arizona’s toughest opponent yet. Ranked for the first time since 2019, the Tigers are 4-0 with a 14-2 goal differential. They have impressive road wins over South Florida’s No.15 and UCF’s No.19.
McCray expects a “hard and physical” clash.
“They are big girls,” she said.
Goerlinger agreed, saying the Wildcats will have to fight for every first and second ball.
“What I’m looking for is first of all our mentality before the game and our way of competing. And second, can we take a step further from the NAU and see more of what we are becoming? Said Moros. “Maybe we’re ready to take that next step, maybe it will take a little longer, but I think we’ve trained well in the time we’ve had this week and we’re going in the right direction. direction.”
Moros added that the team’s next step is to make faster decisions with the ball so they can make more passes in tight spaces. That’s the key to Arizona’s new possession-driven offense, which has been hit and miss so far.
With two exhibitions, the Wildcats have scored four goals in four games. They were ruled out by GCU and Utah Valley, but also scored two goals against San Diego State and, most recently, NAU.
“We definitely improved not only with the connection with the passes, but our level of creativity also improved significantly,” said Goerlinger. “You can certainly see it on film.”
Beating LSU would build confidence in the new system and strengthen Arizona’s NCAA tournament resume.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Moros said, “and LSU probably looks at it the same way.”
Goerlinger takes a trip down memory lane
The return to Tempe will bring back fond memories for Goerlinger, whose career debut, debut and goal were at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in 2019. Then as a freshman she led a corner kick from Morgan mcgarry just two minutes after a possible 6-0 win over Weber State.
“Luckily I was there in the right place and got the upper hand so hopefully I can do it again this weekend,” Goerlinger said on Wednesday. “It will definitely be something to be remembered forever.”
Goerlinger’s speed and versatility got him immediate playing time in his first year, but his role has grown over the past two years.
“She’s a very good leader for us,” said Moros. “She’s stable and consistent on the pitch which I think helps stabilize the rest of the squad and gives us a bit of confidence as a group. She is a vocal leader, she organizes us, she is versatile in terms of speed and qualities but also her ability to play quickly. She learns very quickly. So I think that’s the most important thing – if you know a player has that kind of momentum and is progressing forward with a good clip, then you just want to keep it and keep pushing it and let him do what he does.
Christiansen shines early
Goerlinger shared the midfielder with the first year Gianna Christiansen, who has started every game so far. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Christiansen was an All-American at Santa Margarita High School in Orange County, and played for the SoCal Blues, one of the top clubs in the country, before signing with the Wildcats last fall.
“I love his game,” Goerlinger said. “She’s so technical and savvy, and I think that’s something we were missing in midfield. Having it to be able to find the small technical passes is definitely important.
Several hikes in Tempe
The Sun Devil Desert Classic is typically a Friday through Sunday event. Because it’s Thursday-Sunday this year and both games start early, the Wildcats will be spending more time on I-10.
They’ll spend Wednesday night at Tempe, return to Tucson from Thursday’s game against LSU, come back up on Saturday, stay another night in Tempe, and play Cal State Northridge on Sunday morning before returning to Tucson for good.
“It’s a lot of back and forth,” McCray said with a laugh. “Obviously, I would like to stay there, there is less to-and-fro, I have a bit of motion sickness, but it’s okay. “