Arizona soccer places two on postseason all-conference teams

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Arizona soccer had a rollercoaster of a season. Senior goalkeeper Hope Hisey and freshman midfielder Sami Baytosh were two of the players who helped the Wildcats reach peaks no one outside their locker room expected this season. It earned them selections to all-conference teams on Monday.

Arizona was picked to finish last in the conference after ending last year in that very spot. In 2021, head coach Becca Moros said she didn’t “give a shit” when her team was picked to finish 10th. In 2022, Arizona proved it still didn’t care about being picked low, finishing tied for fifth and in the conversation for the postseason.

It didn’t always look like it was going to happen. The Wildcats started out with some nice matches in nonconference play, piecing together a 2-0-1 record before dropping their first game to Grand Canyon.

The loss to GCU was part of the downward spiral of their rollercoaster season. Arizona won just once over its final five nonconference matches. That skid lasted into the conference season.

Things started to change on Oct. 6. when the Wildcats pulled off a huge upset at then-No. 8 USC, downing the Women of Troy on the road with a 1-0 effort. Hisey was crucial in the Wildcats’ 5-2-1 run that started with that win. It landed her on the All-Pac-12 Third Team.

Hisey had six shutouts this season, including the one against the Women of Troy. The six clean sheets tied her with several players (including herself) at eighth on the all-time program list. It was the third time in her career that she had at least six shutouts in a season with her career-best being seven in 2019.

Hisey also climbed the Arizona record books in goals saved. She made 61 saves this season, ending the season with 289 over her four-year career. That places her fourth in program history. She needs 56 saves to tie Jen Weibel (1994-96).

Hisey will get a chance to do that. She has already announced that she will return for the fifth year offered by the NCAA due to the pandemic.

The 61 saves constituted the lowest total of her career, but it was in line with three of her four seasons at Arizona. Hisey saved 64 as a freshman and 62 as a sophomore. Reverting to that neighborhood indicated that the Wildcats had returned to being a better team along the back line this season than they were last year when Hisey saved an incredible 102 shots.

As with the career saves record, Hisey has a chance to leave Arizona leading in the career shutouts category, too. If she gets at least six shutouts again, she will tie program leader Lainey Burdett (2015-18) with 26. Hisey is currently tied for second with 20, a record also held by McCall Smith (2004-05).

The honors aren’t all about the upperclassmen, though. Baytosh had a strong rookie season. She assisted on the first goal of the season for the Wildcats. She also had an impressive score on a bicycle kick from a seated position to help defeat UC Davis and end a four-game winless streak.

Baytosh led a very balanced team in goals, assists, and points for much of the season. She ended her first year third on the team in goals (2), first in assists (4), and third in points (8).

Arizona has not yet announced whether seniors Madison Goerlinger and Mariah Dunn will join Hisey in returning to the team next year. They will announce their incoming freshmen for next season as soon as tomorrow when the early signing period begins in most NCAA Division I sports.

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