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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tough year to be an Arizona goalkeeper

    Goalkeeper Halley Brown swings for the ball in a 2-0 loss to California at Murphey Stadium on Oct. 28. Brown is the fourth goalie in the net for the soccer team this season.
    Goalkeeper Halley Brown swings for the ball in a 2-0 loss to California at Murphey Stadium on Oct. 28. Brown is the fourth goalie in the net for the soccer team this season.

    It was merely five minutes into the first practice of the Arizona soccer team’s season when an unbelievable turn of events got under way.

    The August heat had not even begun to affect the team, yet, suddenly, a player crumbled to the ground, screaming in pain. She was projected starting goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre.

    McIntyre had moved up on the depth chart after McCall Smith learned a degenerative knee condition would keep her sidelined for a second straight year. As McIntyre attempted a save that day, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial meniscus and lateral meniscus, ending what would have been her junior season.

    This only began the Wildcats’ troubles, as they have needed three other goalkeepers to fill the goal this season due to various injuries.

    “”I wouldn’t say there is (a curse) on us or anything,”” McIntyre said. “”These (injuries) are just freak accidents. The fact that they happened to all the goalies on the team I think is crazy, but it’s stuff that just happens.””

    During the first game of the season, Devon Wharf collided with a Utah player while going for a ball, tearing her ACL in the process.

    Then came freshman and third-string goalkeeper Danielle Nicolai. Nicolai managed the longest stretch of health at the position, making it all the way to Oct. 14 before leaving a game due to a concussion.

    Then assistant coach John Galas found Halley Brown, a senior and former goalkeeper for the Arizona women’s club soccer team. Brown began practicing with the team Sept. 19, leaving her minimal time to get acclimated to the team before Nicolai’s injury.

    “”At first, it was a bit intimidating because we have a pretty big roster,”” Brown said. “”But everyone’s been really cool and they’re easy to play with, so it’s been good.””

    Brown has started six games, including Arizona’s losses to No. 4 USC and No. 1 UCLA this past weekend.

    A scary moment in a Oct. 21 game at Oregon nearly left the Wildcats in yet another conundrum.

    While running for a ball, Brown collided with an Oregon player and was slow to her feet. On the Arizona bench, head coach Dan Tobias told midfielder and emergency goalkeeper Analisa Marquez to start warming up.

    Marquez “”took a double take and said, ‘Are you serious?,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, just in case.’ “” Tobias said. “”Then (Marquez) was over warming up just thinking, ‘Man, I hope Halley’s OK.’ It was kind of a

    funny situation.””

    Fortunately for Arizona, Brown only got the wind knocked out of her and remained in the game.

    With so many changes in goal, it begs the question of how much the multiple changes have affected Arizona’s season. The Wildcats are 6-12-1 overall, 1-6-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference.

    “”It’s been kind of hard for us, because we weren’t expecting any of it,”” said midfielder Samantha Drees. “”But I think our team handled it really well, and we made adjustments.

    “”In the end, it’s the goals that are going to win us games. We’ve been defending well – we just can’t score, and that’s what’s been our problem.””

    For most of the season, defense has been a highlight for the Wildcats. During a 2-6 midseason stretch, Arizona gave up one or fewer goals in six games. Both Brown and Nicolai saw action during that span.

    With only one game remaining for Arizona – Friday’s home game against ASU – many members of the team, especially the keepers, are looking toward what lies ahead.

    While Brown said she most likely will not return next season, as she expects to graduate in the spring, Arizona will return its three original keepers, who are all now considered experienced.

    “”The competition will definitely push the three of us a lot harder,”” McIntyre said. “”We’re all going to come back healthy and be out there giving it our all, because I know we all want to be out there.””

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