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Week 1+2 Recap

After the first two games of 2024, the Sidewinders are 1-1 and sit in third place in the Southwest Conference. Arizona has a chance to jump up the standings this weekend with a huge game in San Diego, but first, let’s catch you up on all the action so far.


Week 1: AZ @ CO


For the first game of the season – and for the first time – Sidewinders headed to Colorado to take on Alpenglow and former teammates  Jade McLaughlin, Ari Nelson, Alex Daniels and Aubree Dietrich (all from the 2022 Arizona roster).


This game was about as back and forth as you’ll ever see. After a slow start, Colorado opened up the scoring, but Arizona quickly answered as Paige Applegate found the endzone for the first Sidewinders goal of 2024. Maggie O’Connor reeled in her first goal as a Sidewinder to put the snakes ahead. However, when the 1st quarter ended, the teams were square  3-3.


Colorado pulled ahead quickly in the 2nd quarter, taking a commanding 2 goal lead with about 2 minutes left in the half. However, a quick strike by Lindsey Doyle, her first goal since returning from injury, and a break by Megan Maxfield tied  things up at 7s. Colorado would notch one more goal to take the lead 8-7 into halftime.


When the 3rd quarter resumed, the teeter totter battle continued. Kez Gesell tallied one of her team leading three goals on the day and Carley Garrett had a huge huck goal, but Colorado continued to put up points against the Arizona defense. 


Arizona’s 10th goal showed their athleticism and grit.Cynthia Thomas had an incredible leaping block, leading to Karli Steiner’s one handed snag in the end zone for a break. 


This break was one of four for Arizona in this game, but Colorado controlled this category with 7 breaks in total. Combined with their 7/17 huck completions, the Arizona defense just could not stop the trio of Sarah Pesch, Abby Thorpe and McLaughlin. At the end of the 3rd quarter, scores  were even once again at 11s.


Heading into the 4th, the goal for both teams was simple: win the quarter, win the game. After a Colorado break, Lauren Pisani caught a tipped pass that, if dropped, could have led to another break for Colorado. Instead she made the catch, dished it off, and made a beeline for the end zone where she slid on her knees to secure the disc for the goal. 


Arizona had a chance to pull ahead after the Aplengow struggled to complete their hucks, but a costly AZ turnover led to a Haley Banas score, putting the Sidewinders down by one for the 8th time in the game. But, just like the previous 7 times, the snakes found a way back, once again thanks to Pisani who made an incredible sliding huck reception before finding Nora Landri to tie things up at 13s.


With only 5:45 left in the game, Arizona had the disc and was looking for a break. After a turnover, Colorado struck a controversial goal, as a pick was called and then overturned. The score stood, and the Sidewinders could not come back as Colorado punched it in twice more and secured a 16-14 victory.




Week 2: UT @ AZ


Arizona welcomed the Utah Wild to the viper pit for their 2024 home opener. It was just the second time the two teams had faced each other, the first being a 16-11 win for the Sidewinders at home in 2022.


Utah would open up the scoring, but Arizona would respond with a hold on a Chang layout grab. The Wild and Sidewinders would trade goals until the 3-3 mark when an O’Connor break put them ahead for the first time. 


The 2nd quarter was the best quarter for the snakes so far in 2024, with Arizona outscoring Utah 5-2. Chang and O’Connor tallied their second goals of the night to make it 6-4. Applegate found Landri to put the Sidewinders up by 3. Stellar defense by Kelsey Bradley and Applegate pestered Utah’s offense all night long. With only 2 minutes left in the 1st half, Steiner made an impressive back corner layout grab to give the snakes a commanding lead going into halftime, 9-5. 


The 3rd quarter opened with Pisani’s shutdown defense forcing a block. She then made a huge huck reception to put the snakes up 10-5. Just when things looked like they were out of reach, Wild stormed back and scored 3 unanswered goals. With the score at 10-8, and desperately needing some momentum, Applegate threw a huck that Landri chased down 25 yards for a gol. Although the snakes went 11 full minutes without scoring, they were still up 11-8 going into the 4th. 


As we learned in the Week 1 Bay @ Utah game,, when the Wild are down, they aren’t out. Racking up 2 more goals, they had Arizona on their heels 11-10 with about 7 minutes to play. Once again, Arizona needed momentum, and once again, Landri was there. LP Aragon let fly a ~50 yard huck that caught wind and floated up, allowing Landri to somehow get in position to keep her feet in for the goal. 


Utah would respond to make it 12-11, but Arizona decided the game was over. With a crucial Kez Gesell goal, an unreal layout score from captain Helen Eifert and connection between rookies Janet Wan and Taylor Hicks, Sidewinders sealed the 15-12 victory.





Looking Ahead


Arizona has a huge chance to gain some ground in the standings these next two weeks in a home-away series against San Diego. After that, they’ll have two weeks off to dial things in before their home-away series against the Bay Area Falcons. 


San Diego is 2-0 with a +4 goal differential. However, both of their games have been close 17-15 victories. Arizona’s biggest challenge will be finding a way to shut down Merideth Byl (former Sidewinder in 2022 and 2023), who has 6 goals so far, and 2023 League MVP Kaela Helton, who has an astonishing 10 assists. Along with Byl, Sidewinders will square off against another former teammate Cam Helm (2022).


Bay Area is led by the duo of Julia Mankoff, with 5 goals and a +9 in the +/- category, and Han Chen, who also has 10 assists. It’ll be up to the coaching staff to find a way to neutralize the Falcons, who are 1-1, with an authoritative 18-10 win over former 2022/2023 League Champions, Seattle Tempest, but a loss to Utah.

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