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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

A new beginning

Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Soccer team gets fresh start against Toreros

Come game time on Friday night in San Diego, the Arizona Wildcats soccer program will sweep a bumpy 2009 season under the rug and look forward to a clean slate against No. 22 University of San Diego (1-0).

Players from last year’s squad endured the mid-season departure of head coach Dan Tobias coupled with a disappointing 4-15-1 campaign, so for first-year head coach Lisa Oyen and her squad, 2010 couldn’t have come soon enough.

With a young roster that includes 12 freshmen and just three seniors, Oyen’s expectations for the season remain bright knowing that the new group of Wildcats has fusedseamlessly with the veterans.

“”(The freshmen) have integrated really well, and the chemistry with all the players is very, very positive,”” Oyen said.

“”Our returners have set such a good example for our younger players that there hasn’t been a lot of issues as far as just youth and inexperience. It’s nice when you have a young group that may not have a lot of experience, but all they have to do is follow suit with the returners,”” Oyen added.

Arizona will undoubtedly rely on its trio of seniors — Becky Barry, Alex Davis, and Macke Mutz ­­— as well as last year’s leading scorer, junior Renae Cuellar, but it also hopes to see some flair from freshman midfielder Ana Montoya, who spent the summer on Colombia’s U-20 team that reached the semifinals in the Women’s World Cup.

While 2010 might be considered a rebuilding year, as the program is primed to head in the right direction under Oyen’s guidance, Arizona will have to navigate a loaded Pacific 10 Conference that features some of the nation’s elite teams.

“”I think we do have a group that’s talented enough to perform well with a good mix of leadership and youth and talent,”” Oyen said.

Despite a young team and a rigorous schedule, Arizona’s hopes remain high knowing that it might just have enough youthful ignorance to attain postseason bliss.

“”One of our goals this year is to be a team considered for the postseason,”” Oyen said. “”Just knowing that there are so many variables that go into a season, and we’re just hoping that a lot of those variables are in our favor.””

 

Preparing for the Toreros and Waves

The Wildcats will hit the ground running by playing two tough matches to open up the year in a tournament hosted by the University of San Diego.

“”If you want to beat the best, you have to play against the best. You prepare yourself day one to play against that elite competition,”” Oyen said.

The USD Toreros are coming off an upset win over USC ­— a team that will likely be a tough out in the Pac-10 all season — and USD will be looking to carry that momentum into their matchup with Arizona.

“”(USD) has always been a strong side, and we have an idea of what to expect when we play against them so it won’t be a total shock as to what sort of style they play,”” Oyen said.

USD defeated the Wildcats 4-1 last season in Tucson in a match that was closer than the score indicates.

This weekend’s matches offer an opportunity for some of Arizona’s freshmen to get their feet wet against elite competition when the Wildcats play Pepperdine University (1-0) on Sunday, a side that narrowly missed the NCAA tournament last season.

“”We’re kind of just excited to get going knowing that our first game we’ll see the kind of competition we’re going to see all year long,”” Oyen said.

Win or lose, the Wildcats will gain an understanding of where they stand after months of training as they continue to push the program back into Pac-10 prominence.

“”It will be a good gauge to see where we’re at right now, just to see what we need to work on and hopefully we have a result that’s positive,”” Oyen added.

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