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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    So-Cal invades Tucson


    For many of the Arizona soccer players, Oct. 10 had been circled on their calendars – it was a meeting with archrival ASU.

    The extra emphasis on the Sun Devils paid off as Arizona ended 15 years without beating ASU and pulled out a historic 2-1 double-overtime win.

    But as the celebration and excitement flowed throughout the weekend, the emotions were put to rest Monday, as the team returned to practice to prepare for a pair of opponents without the historic significance, but with current importance.

    The Wildcats (8-4, 1-0 Pacific 10 Conference) play host to two conference opponents, No. 7 USC (11-1-1, 1-0-1) tonight at 7 and No. 3 UCLA (11-0-2, 2-0-0) Sunday afternoon at Murphey Stadium.

    “”We need to be aware of both USC and UCLA being very good programs,”” said UA midfielder Karina Camacho. “”But we’re just trying to focus on what we can do well and our strengths. We can only control what we can do on the field. So we’re just going into this weekend with a hardworking mentality and hoping that translates to the field.””

    Coming off such an emotional win, some players admitted retaining focus can pose a slight challenge, with the danger of becoming overconfident.

    But UA head coach Dan Tobias said big wins like the ASU victory are more like a step stool to the next level.

    “”I think (the win) will act almost like a catapult,”” Tobias said. “”I think the group is mature enough that they won’t have a let down, I don’t see that in this particular group.

    “”I saw them enjoy the game, enjoy it afterwards and then I saw them come back to work on Monday and get back to work,”” he added. “”I don’t think (the chance of a let down) is any kind of issue.””

    Arizona certainly has its work cut out for itself as the two teams come to Tucson with a combined total of 12 goals allowed all season. The Bruins currently lead the nation in the category with only two goals getting past goalkeeper Ashley Thompson – one by UC Santa Barbara and the other last weekend in a 2-1 double-overtime Bruin win over Washington State.

    But the Wildcats are feeling fairly confident offensively as they outscore their opponents 19-9 at this point in the season.

    Forward London King said the team plans to attack both teams – UCLA especially – “”any way you can.””

    “”I’m not really afraid of (the Bruins) letting in only two goals because they haven’t played us,”” King said. “”I think what we have is different from a lot of other teams. We have speed, skill, people who can jump and head the ball, score behind their back, volleys. I just don’t think (UCLA is) ready for how versatile we are.””

    Arizona has shown its versatility throughout the season in the various ways they have gone about scoring goals.

    The Wildcats’ goals have come in the form of everything from breakaways – which forward Renae Cuellar has exhibited on multiple occasionsÿ- from headers to behind-the-back varieties that King herself implemented in a 2-1 overtime win over Cal State Northridge Sept. 21.

    So far, Arizona has needed every bit of its versatility in getting its eight wins as five games have been decided in overtime.

    Along with getting its first win against ASU and its 100th overall program win, Arizona broke another school record Friday night when it won its third overtime game of the season. The Wildcats’ only losses in extra time have come at the hands of Texas and UC Santa Barbara.

    More history regarding extra periods could be made this weekend should the Wildcats go to their sixth overtime game of the year, which would tie a school record.

    All of the extra soccer has not only made Arizona better conditioned, but also boosted its confidence.

    “”We just know we can last late into games and we can keep up with teams,”” Camacho said. “”Yeah, we’d like to put it away in regulation, but we know that even if it’s an evenly matched game that we can last through overtime and win the game then.””

    One weapon Arizona will be without this weekend – and potentially the season – is midfielder Sam Drees.

    The junior suffered a microfracture in her left knee late in Friday’s game in Tempe on a hard collision on which no foul was called.

    “”(Drees) brings so many great things to the midfield. We’ll certainly miss her,”” Tobias said. “”But we have depth at that position and people who have been playing well, which is great. We’ll miss Sam for what she brings to the field, but we feel very comfortable in the players we have who will need to fill her shoes.””

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