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Arizona produced the upsert of the tournament, which is a bit of a statement considering the amount of upsets on day one, beating Arkansas State 7-5 in the Cup Quarterfinals Sunday at PPL Park in suburban Philadelphia. The Wildcats will play Kutztown in the Cup Semis.
Arkansas State looked to be in early after Dylan Carrion scooped up a loose ball off the deck and a couple of nifty switches had the Red Wolves down the field with numbers, but Conor Cook knocked on a pass that may have put him away.
Arizona didn’t hold onto possession long, though, and Alex Goff had enough power to beat one defender and enough pace to get up the touch line for a try. Conversion missed, ASU led 5-0 with a couple of minutes to play.
Arizona had a chance to level the table when Kyle Rogers spurted up a sideline, but a perfectly executed cover tackle from Carrion in the sweeper position saved a try.
Arizona caught a break when referee Mike Kelly slapped the Red Wolves with two yellow cards in a matter of seconds at the end of the half. Despite playing seven-against-five, the Wildcats couldn’t convert a point blank penalty play into points, and ASU clung to a 5-0 lead at halftime.
Remarkably, Arkansas State made it through the first two minutes of the second half without conceding a score. However, the drain of playing two men down was palpable, and a couple of more minutes in Dante Weeks got through a tired Red Wolf defense to score under the posts, and with the conversion, put Arizona up 7-5. The freshman has been a standout all weekend long.
"Dante Weeks is one who is going to get a lot of press for his attacking ability but defensively he was really spectacular in that game," Arizona coach Sean Duffy said of Weeks.
The ensuing restart didn’t go 10 meters, giving ASU a big opportunity, but a knock-on and a penalty allowed Arizona to kick for touch, drain the clock and take an attacking lineout. The throw-in wasn’t straight, giving the favorites one last chance.
The Red Wolves could produce no go-forward, though, and the Wildcats forced a turnover and kicked to touch to end the match, ending a 7s winning streak for ASU dating back to 2012.
"We knew that Arkansas State was a really good program, they do really good things in 7s. That is their bread and butter," added Duffy. "We really had to rely on our depth. We had guys that didn't play much in day one that played huge, huge roles in that game. It was a really complete win from 1-12 and really started to give the guys some belief that a cup run was possible."