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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Soccer seniors seek UA’s 1st victory over ASU

    Arizona senior midfielder Sarah Litt dives for the ball in the Wildcats 2-0 loss to then-No. 21 California on Oct. 28 at Murphey Stadium. Litt is one of three seniors on the team playing their last regular season game today against ASU. Arizona has never defeated the Sun Devils.
    Arizona senior midfielder Sarah Litt dives for the ball in the Wildcats’ 2-0 loss to then-No. 21 California on Oct. 28 at Murphey Stadium. Litt is one of three seniors on the team playing their last regular season game today against ASU. Arizona has never defeated the Sun Devils.

    Four years ago, the Arizona soccer program had yet to make an NCAA Tournament appearance. Head coach Dan Tobias had not yet become the program’s winningest coach, nor had he even posted his first winning season.

    But in 2004, along came a recruiting class Tobias claims helped build the program. Now that these three women are seniors and the team is eliminated from postseason contention, they will play their final game for the Wildcats (6-12-1, 1-6-1 Pacific 10 Conference) tonight against ASU (9-9-1, 3-4-1) at 7 at Murphey Stadium.

    “”These seniors have given so much for the good of the team and the good of the program,”” Tobias said. “”They deserve us to play our best game so they can go out on top and so they can say their last game was their best 90 minutes.””

    Back in 2004, defenders Kaity Heath, Claire Bodiya and forward Sarah Litt entered a program coming off a disappointing 6-11-2 season in Tobias’ first year.

    But the program changed that season, as the team won more games than any team in school history, finishing the regular season 15-6-0 and earning the Pac-10 title, as well. The 2004 Wildcats also became the first to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

    The following year, Arizona proved the prior season was not a fluke by returning to the NCAA Tournament and reaching the round of 16 -ÿa program accomplishment yet to be matched.

    Since that last Tournament appearance, the Wildcats have been unable to put together a season worthy of an invite. Last season, Arizona finished 8-10-2, and currently sits ninth in the Pac-10 standings, with a 6-12-1 record.

    With the lack of success Arizona suffered the past two seasons, 2004 and 2005 became more significant to the seniors.

    “”It’s disappointing not getting invited to the Tournament (this season),”” Heath said. “”But I’ve won a Pac-10 title and been to the Sweet 16, so that’s something nice to have under my belt, which is something positive to look at.””

    Because of their experience, many younger players have made a point to take advantage of the seniors’ knowledge.

    Junior

    When I was a freshman
    having seniors as captains, they were the leaders out there, and we just followed their example. And I know for our freshmen and sophomores, they see (the seniors) the same way.

    -Brianna Caceres,
    junior defender

    defender Brianna Caceres said she felt honored to have played with the trio.

    “”I’ve learned so much I can’t even think of everything,”” Caceres said. “”It’s just crazy thinking this is (the seniors’) last week with us. It’s going to be hard to lose them.””

    Because of a lack of seniors on last year’s roster, the loss of Bodiya, Heath and Litt is that much tougher. For two seasons now, the three women have been the leaders both on and off the field.

    Their leadership “”has been huge for us, especially the freshman and sophomores,”” Caceres said. “”When I was a freshman having seniors as captains, they were the leaders out there, and we just followed their example. And I know for our freshmen and sophomores, they see (the seniors) the same way.””

    While some Arizona players might be looking at tonight’s game as simply a send-off to the seniors, others, including Heath, Bodiya and Litt, see another huge motivation within the rivalry matchup – Arizona has never defeated the Sun Devils.

    The Wildcats’ best result against their in-state foes came in 2003, when Arizona managed a 1-1 tie.

    Beating ASU “”would just be amazing for us,”” Heath said. “”Especially with how this season went, ending on a good note, especially against ASU, would be amazing and make us feel like we have done something.””

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