The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

71° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats soccer gets defensive

Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

After letting eight goals into the back of the net in its first two matches, the Arizona Wildcats soccer team rebounded to record a solid defensive effort that resulted in its first draw and win of the season – a 1-1 tie against NAU and 4-2 over Cal Poly last weekend.

Arizona’s back four displayed a strong week-to-week progression that was instrumental in the Wildcats’ successful second weekend, using better communication and strong, physical play to foil offensive attacks

“”That defensive group is the backbone,”” said head coach Lisa Oyen. “”They set a standard and give a bit of confidence to the entire team.””

Arizona showcased a more complete game last weekend, one that flashed glimpses of the potential that Oyen sees from her team during training before matches.

With a talented group of forwards and midfielders that can create shots, scoring goals is not the main focus of concern for the 2010 Wildcats — it’s preventing them.

“”Your back four and your goalkeeper probably have to be the most important part of the field,”” said senior midfielder Macke Mutz. “”Just getting them confident and comfortable is the most important thing.””

The importance of defense to Arizona’s success this year doesn’t just stop at the ability to prevent opponents from scoring.

“”The more we deny our opponents’ chances the more risks we can take on offense,”” Oyen said.

In Sunday’s win over Cal Poly, the Wildcats were churning as one unit, with the offense benefiting from defensive stops and quick releases that allowed Arizona’s offense to catch the Mustangs off-guard on the other end.

“”I think the other part is we are preventing shots,”” Oyen said, “”but as soon as we get the ball we’re looking to release up top, so the communication with our back four was much better.””

The Wildcats brave a rigorous non-conference and Pacific 10 Conference schedule, and Oyen acknowledged that she expects to be tested each match, and keeping the defense sharp would remain a focal point for the rest of the year.

“”To have that group be consistent in every game is going to be key, because we’re going to be tested in every game,”” Oyen said.

 

Freshmen make immediate impact

With a total of 12 freshmen on the roster, Arizona is counting on its youth to win games, and win games now.

The young Wildcats won’t have a lot of time to adjust to the collegiate game as they pay tough non-conference games early on, but if last weekend was any indication, the freshmen seem ready for the challenge.

“”To see those freshmen step in and not even really think about it, to not have those nerves and just go out and play … they want to be good and they want to be good now,”” Oyen said.

If the freshmen had any butterflies about playing soccer at college level, they haven’t showed it so far.

Both Mutz and senior Alex Davis have watched what look like veterans since the first day of training, and their seamless transition has helped the returners feel comfortable with the newcomers on the field.

“”Ever since pre-season they’ve killed it,”” Davis said. “”It’s really good to see them comfortable with us and comfortable on the field, and it’s really showed in the past couple games.””

“”They pushed us almost, them being excited to play makes us excited to play,”” Davis added. “”They have integrated so well.””

Friday night against NAU, freshman Jensen Skinner clutched up and buried a game-tying goal in the 88th minute to lift the Wildcats to a hard-fought draw.

Against Cal Poly, the future looked even brighter when freshmen Ana Montoya and Jazmin Ponce both sent shots to the back of the net, and Gabrielle Lindeman assisted junior Renae Cuellar on the first of her two goals.

“”Their maturity is shining through and we know that they can play at this level,”” Davis said.

More to Discover
Activate Search