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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Third-string goaltender to start on injury-plagued squad

    Sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre stretches out to corral a save during practice on Aug. 22 at Murphey Field. McIntyre has taken over as the teams starting goalie after starter McCall Smith and backup Devon Wharf were injured.
    Sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre stretches out to corral a save during practice on Aug. 22 at Murphey Field. McIntyre has taken over as the team’s starting goalie after starter McCall Smith and backup Devon Wharf were injured.

    The transition from high school soccer to an eventual Sweet 16 college soccer team wasn’t easy for UA goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre, but after being thrown into the fire for one start last season, McIntyre was ready for any situation.

    With two goalies ahead of her on the depth chart entering the year, even she may not have expected to be in the net so soon this season for the No. 17 Wildcats.

    McIntyre said she was a little nervous when she first came to Arizona as a freshman last year.

    “”Just seeing the players, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,'”” McIntyre said. “”(I was) just trying to make saves, and girls were playing 10 times faster then you’ve ever seen in your life.””

    But she had to get rid of that fear in Arizona’s 2-1 double-overtime loss to then-No. 4 UCLA in November.

    The game was televised on FSN and was McIntyre’s first start.

    “”(It) was definitely very nerve-racking,”” said McIntyre, who had eight saves in the game. “”Coach comes up and he’s like, ‘You are going to start.’ I’d waited for that all season.””

    The sophomore now seems to have been called up to do the impossible: replace injured goalie McCall Smith, the 2004 Rookie of the Year who recorded nine shutouts and allowed for only 25 goals on the season last year but is out for the season with a knee injury.

    Devon Wharf, a 6-foot-1 sophomore goalkeeper, was originally expected to start in Smith’s place but she couldn’t due to a cracked bone in her foot, which left McIntyre to fill the job.

    But McIntyre said she knows she can do it.

    “”I think I am doing well,”” said McIntyre, who started playing soccer when she was four.

    UA head coach Dan Tobias agreed.

    “”She’s doing a great job,”” Tobias said. “”She’s a good goalkeeper, a real hard worker.””

    And she picks up things really fast, Tobias said, especially in terms of positioning.

    “”Management, positioning and reading the game will turn into saving what you are supposed to rather than relying on spectacular saves,”” Tobias said.

    Although fans may like those spectacular saves, Tobias said coaches and players know better: The goalkeepers are not in the right place.

    McIntyre has picked up on this and knows where to be, Tobias said.

    Still, McIntyre, who recorded four saves in the Wildcats’ 2-1 victory over Oakland and seven saves in the team’s 1-0, double-overtime loss to Michigan, said she could always do better.

    “”I need to work on perfecting my distribution, defensively being able to read players better, reading into each individual on the field and watching their tendencies and how they play,”” McIntyre said. “”I need to make sure I am bettering my team because defensively we need to be strong.””

    So is there a lot of pressure to perform?

    Of course, McIntyre said. But she’s up for the challenge.

    “”I want to come in and be a leader, get another Sweet 16,”” McIntyre said. “”I feel pressure in the sense that I want to be successful, but I am not scared at all.””

    Sophomore forward London King said she thinks McIntyre is handling the pressure just fine.

    “”I think she is doing awesome,”” King said. “”She definitely has the perfect attitude. I wouldn’t want any other person in the position that she is in.””

    McIntyre went from nervous freshman to confident sophomore with the help of her “”mentor”” Smith, whose knee injuries resulted in the opportunity McIntyre said she’s thrilled about.

    “”I am excited more than anything to jump in and try to bring success to the team like what (Smith) did,”” she said.

    Tobias said McIntyre is picking up many things from Smith.

    “”Chelsea has done a good job of watching McCall, how she trains, how she’s like in game-like situations,”” he said.

    Overall, McIntyre is just happy to be here.

    “”My dream was always to play in the Pac-10. It was just my calling,”” McIntyre said. “”Being here for a year, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else now. I love it.””

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