Freshmen lead Arizona football to win against UC Davis in final non-conference game

In the final tune-up game before Arizona Football kicks off the Pac-12 game at Utah, head coach Becca Moros decided it was time to give a lot of freshmen their chance to get started. The Wildcats leader started four freshmen, including giving Trinity Dorsey the first nod of his career.

It was the difference in the 1-0 win over UC Davis to wrap up the pre-conference portion of the schedule. That pushed Arizona’s record to 3-2-2 a year after the Wildcats finished 3-4 before the Pac-12 game.

Arizona’s four losses came in regulation last year, so this year’s two ties are still an improvement over last season’s results. The rules changed this year to allow games to end in a tie after settlement during the regular season.

Injuries were one of the reasons for the roster changes, including an injury to the senior Madison Goerlinger. The midfielder by trade played as a central defender for Arizona most of the season.

Moros said Goerlinger rolled her ankle early in the year and had just played. The coaches wanted to rest her so she could be fully healthy for Pac-12 play. Goerlinger stood on the sidelines wearing a boot. In addition, freshmen save their time.

“Part of that was also, you know, we just finished three games and we didn’t get the results that we wanted,” Moros said. “So it’s good to have a competition. It’s good to change. And I think they trained very well. And we’re down to seven games, they were six games before this game, so they’ve got some good experience under their belt. They practiced a lot. They’re fine, so they’ll keep fighting for time.

The Arizona freshmen supported their coach’s confidence in them. In the 37th minute, the freshman defender Angela Baron played the ball into the box. First-year student Sami Baytoch, who was making the second start of her career, kicked the ball into the net as she lay on the floor. It was Arizona’s first goal in the first half of a game this season.

“I got the cross,” Baytosh said. “We both ran into each other. I saw the guard come out and I just hopped on top of her.

Baron got the first point of his career on the assist. It was a nice birthday present.

“I’m so excited,” Baron said. “Sami here made it happen.”

It was Baytosh’s second career goal. She also has one assist this year, giving her five points on the season. She leads the team in goals and points and is tied with junior Megan Chief for the penalty shootout lead with five.

Moros is happy with the development she’s seeing at both Baron and Baytosh, but it’s particularly tricky for the latter. While Baron plays a fairly simple centre-back position and gets support and guidance from other centre-backs, Baytosh tries to find the balance between being a traditional midfielder and being a striker.

It’s not just something the player has to adapt to. Moros and his staff must also adapt to it.

“She’s just a good footballer,” Moros said. “Like Angela, she’s clean and savvy. She moves well. She’s a bit of a hybrid player between a forward and a midfielder. So kind of figuring out how that fits in with everyone was one of our challenges and something that we paid close attention to. When you have players who traditionally fit one role or another, it’s easy to hook up and play people. But when you start having people kind of hybridizing the positions, then you have to be really smart about how you pair people up.

For this outing, the pairings seemed to work well. The Wildcats led in shots (12-6) and also had the advantage in shots on goal (4-3). In addition to Baytosh’s goal, Arizona had a very dangerous chance in the 31st minute.

The visitors almost took the lead in the 37th minute when they got the Arizona keeper I hope Hisey out of line. The chip shot over his head bounced off the crossbar. Ten seconds later, Baytosh’s shot gave Arizona the lead for good.

Both goalkeepers made three saves. The Aggies led the corner kicks with an 11-3 advantage.

On the referees’ front, UC Davis was whistled for seven fouls against five for Arizona. However, the Wildcats were once again more cautious than their opponent. Arizona received two yellow cards to none for the visiting team. Baytosh was cautioned in the 15th minute while Olivia Briede got the card in the 51st minute.

The two warnings gave Arizona nine yellow cards this season after receiving only eight last year. These cards went to eight different players, with only Chelf getting more than one. Arizona’s opponents have picked up four yellow cards and one red card this year.

Moros isn’t too concerned about that as long as it’s ‘professional misconduct’, just like she wasn’t when asked about the yellow cards earlier in the season. At that time, she said the biggest concern was managing the game and preventing players from picking up the red card and being disqualified.

“We’ve always had a few people – some of our hard hitters – who will end up picking up yellow cards just for being hard tacklers,” she said. “But you kind of need those people on your team and every team needs to have them. I think we have more people, but I don’t know if that’s a theme or if (the officials) are doing something…differently at all levels. I know for any type of outburst from the players they are quicker to give a yellow card, but I’m not sure that has been part of the equation until now.

It can also be part of the learning process which will be solved by more game time for subclasses. Six of the nine yellow cards were picked up by freshmen and sophomores.

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