The young and improving Arizona Wildcats soccer team must show up for every match and compete for every ball to have a chance at coming away a winner in Pac-12 contests.

If that wasn’t abundantly obvious before Friday afternoon, Washington State reinforced the UA’s clarity with three goals in the second half at Murphey Stadium to comfortably salt away a 4-0 victory before 300 fans.

For the Wildcats (7-6-3, 2-5 Pac-12), it was the first time this season they have lost by more than two goals and the first time they allowed more than two goals.

“We took it on the chin,” first-year coach Tony

Amato said.

“They scored on two set pieces that we just didn’t defend well, and it changed the whole game.”

Trailing 1-0 going into the second half, Arizona watched WSU midfielder Nicole Setterlund score twice in the first 11 minutes during chaotic moments in the UA box — the first a header after the Wildcats couldn’t clear the ball, the second a toe-poke after a scramble when the UA didn’t get to a corner first.

“It’s my first two-goal game ever,” said Setterlund. “I would just say I was lucky to get on the end of it, my team did most of the work.”

Eleven minutes later, WSU (10-3-3, 3-3-1) made it 4-0 when a 35-yard free kick by Mesa Owsley flicked off the fingertips of goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman and dipped under the bar.

“Washington State is a good team but in order for us to compete now, which we know all year — against UCLA, Stanford, USC — we have to overcome quality teams by competing every ball,” Amato said. “Every ball is so important for us to compete, every tackle, every head. If we aren’t on every one of those, that’s what will happen, we’ll lose a game like that.”

The Cougars’ physical and imposing defense, which entered the match ranked seventh nationally in shutout percentage (.67) and 24th in goals-against average (0.63), then took over. It restricted the Wildcats to only a couple of chances that failed to bother starting goalkeeper Gurveen Clair or her substitute, Alexis Thode.

“We could have worked a little harder and battled and been more physical with them,” said UA freshman midfielder Lexe Selman, who had four of the Wildcats’ 10 shots.

“They just wanted it a little more than we did today. We just have to make sure that we’re always outworking every team that we play.”