The University of Arizona women’s soccer team took care of business on a historic night.
The Wildcats (13-5-2), hosting an NCAA tournament game for the first time ever, beat Northern Colorado 2-0 on Friday at Mulcahy Stadium in the opening round.
UA took advantage of goals in both halves to down the Bears in front of a packed house of a little more than 1,000 fans.
“We’re happy. It’s hard to win NCAA tournament games,” said Arizona coach Tony Amato. “That’s the first time in program history to host a game, and it’s important for us to actually win that game.”
Arizona opened up the scoring in the 39th minute when freshman defender Jessica Nelson cleaned up a rebound after the UNC goalkeeper fumbled a shot off a free kick by Arizona’s Cali Crisler.
It was the Tucson native’s first postseason goal, and it came at a good time in the game for the Wildcats.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling,” Nelson said. “I knew we had to get on the board, and I knew I had to put it in.”
Arizona completely controlled the chances in the first half, outshooting the visitors 19-3 while putting nine shots on target.
Arizona doubled its advantage in the 74th minute after senior defender Sheaffer Skadsen converted on a penalty kick that was awarded after freshman Kaitlyn Lopez was brought down in the box by a UNC defender.
Skadsen’s strike beat the diving goalkeeper to the left and gave the Cats a commanding 2-0 advantage. Skadsen’s goal would be the last of the match, and sealed the victory for the home squad.
“To have a sold-out crowd and this kind of atmosphere, it makes a huge difference for me,” Skadsen said. “I love to be able to strike through a ball or get into a tackle and hear the crowd have my back with it. It really motivates me and keeps me in my game.”
Arizona plays the winner of Saturday’s Santa Clara-Long Beach State match in the second round this coming Friday.