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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Semester in review

Soccer

5-13-2, 1-8 Pac-10

 

Season summary

With a new head coach and a dozen freshmen, there was a fair share of uncertainty for how successful the Arizona soccer season would be following a dismal and turbulent 2009. The young Wildcats waded their way through an extremely demanding conference schedule for the first time without junior star Renae Cuellar and endured the bumps and bruises on the way to an improved 5-13-2 (1-8 Pac-10) record.

 

Team MVP

Ashley Jett. The junior goalkeeper showed up every game as the fiery vocal leader of Arizona’s back four. Jett’s goalkeeping wasn’t too bad either, getting better as the season went on and finishing first in the Pac-10 in saves (104) and saves per game (5.78).

 

What went right

Although the record will not indicate success, 2010 restored much-needed stability to an Arizona program that has experienced adversity and controversy in recent years. Head coach Lisa Oyen established a new blueprint for the future of Arizona soccer by steering the program clear of off-the-field issues and created a foundation for a winning culture.

 

What went wrong

After just six games, Cuellar went down to a knee injury that would force her to sit out the remainder of the season. Arizona’s offense was largely ineffective the rest of the year without Cuellar, and the Wildcats’ inability to find the back of the net became an unfortunate theme in 2010.

 

2011 forecast

Success in 2011 is contingent on the development of Arizona’s freshmen in their sophomore seasons. With a year under their belts, they should be readily prepared for the rigors of playing soccer in an elite conference, and as a result, Arizona should see a boost in the win column. If Cuellar returns to form and Jett maintains her status as an anchor in goal, the season outlook should begin sunnier than usual, but playing in the Pac-10 means that there is always a chance for rain.

 

— Michael Fitzsimmons

Football

7-5, 4-5 Pac-10. Will play Oklahoma State in Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29

 

Season summary

What started as a season of promise ended in utter failure. Highlighted by a 34-27 win over Iowa, Arizona raced off to a 7-1 record only to finish the regular season 7-5, including a heart-breaking loss to ASU.

 

Team MVP

In a season of inconsistency, the team’s best player was far and away wide receiver Juron Criner. The junior caught 73 balls for 1,186 yards and 10 touchdowns despite always drawing the attention of opposing defenses. If he stays for his senior year, Criner will undoubtedly be a first or second round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

 

What went right

Arizona’s biggest question coming into the season was how three new linebackers would play, and for the most part, the trio of Paul Vassallo, Derek Earls and Jake Fischer played well all season. Defensive end Ricky Elmore had another stellar season, as did well as defensive back Joe Perkins.

 

What went wrong

A lot. The running game was nonexistent, the secondary never seemed comfortable and the kicking game, well, you know how that went. To make matters worse, Arizona never seemed to play a complete game, which doomed the team in all five of its losses.

 

2011 forecast

With the addition of transfer wide receiver Dan Buckner and freshman running back Ka’Deem Carey, the Nick Foles-led offense should be unstoppable — if the new crop of offensive linemen can keep it together. The defense will need to replace defensive ends Elmore and Brooks Reed, but excitement is already building for the safety tandem of Adam Hall and Marquis Flowers.

— Tim Kosch

Volleyball

20-12, 9-9 Pac-10

 

Season summary

After starting off ranked No. 18 in the country, Arizona dropped out of the rankings for a short time only to finish the regular season at No. 20. Inconsistency and unspectacular play led the Wildcats to a 9-9 Pacific 10 Conference record.

 

Team MVP

Paige Weber. She was Arizona’s vocal leader throughout the year and the player everything went through on offense.

 

What went right

Arizona swept rival ASU and found a way to beat Washington for the first time in eight seasons, along with making an NCAA Tournament appearance for the second straight year.

 

What went wrong

UA had a chance to make a statement in four separate matches against top-5 teams, but only one of those was even competitive. Arizona was bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

 

2011 forecast

Even though Arizona graduates four seniors and redshirt-junior Kaylen Bannister, the Wildcats are bringing in a recruiting class that has head coach Dave Rubio excited. Next year’s team will be both exciting and frustrating to watch because of youth and probably will be both in the span of a few minutes. UA brings back four players who saw significant time in 2010, and a tournament run is possible but not likely.

 

— Alex Williams

Women’s cross-country

 

Season summary

The women’s cross-country team came out fast this year and was

consistently ranked in the top 10. They were hoping to finish in the top four at nationals but had to settle for 11th place, which was a vast improvement compared to their 30th-place finish last year.

 

Team MVP

Jennifer Bergman. Anyone could have been named MVP, but Bergman finished first for the Wildcats on three occasions and won one meet.

 

What went right

The team had amazing depth, which showed all year. Their ‘pack running’ was vital in their 11th place run at nationals.

 

What went wrong

The team had an off day during nationals and struggled. Their performance might have won them several meets, but that wasn’t enough when they were competing against the best competition in the country.

 

2011 forecast

The team returns every member of this year’s squad except Maggie Callahan, the lone senior. With the experience they gathered this year and the amount of talent the team has, they should be right back at the top next year. The trio of Hannah Moen, Bergman and Elvin Kibet should be enough to have Arizona fans excited.

Men’s cross-country

 

Season summary

Stephen Sambu carried the load for a team that, for the most part, just couldn’t put things together. Head coach James Li even went as far as saying he wanted the rest of the team to shave a minute off of their times.

 

Team MVP

Sambu, who was awarded the Pacific 10 Conference cross-country Athlete of the Year and Newcomer of the Year after finishing second at nationals.

 

What went right

Sambu came into the UA with a lot of experience. He had never lost a meet at the junior college level, and he had won back-to-back NJCAA titles in the outdoor 10 kilometers and 5,000 meters.

 

What went wrong

Lack of depth and lack of experience really killed the team this year. The coaching staff could not find an answer as the team continued to struggle all year.

 

2011 forecast

Barring any injury, Sambu should be right at the top again next year. Even Sambu was surprised at how well he did at nationals. If the rest of the team does not pick things up and learn through their experiences, it will be another long year for the men’s cross-country team.

 

— Kevin Nadakal

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