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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Soccer can’t live up to potential

    UA defender Kaity Heath fights off ASU defender Lauren Niblett in a 2-1 loss to the Sun Devils on Friday night at Murphey Stadium. The Wildcats suffered many scoreless droughts and goalkeeper injuries this season.
    UA defender Kaity Heath fights off ASU defender Lauren Niblett in a 2-1 loss to the Sun Devils on Friday night at Murphey Stadium. The Wildcats suffered many scoreless droughts and goalkeeper injuries this season.

    If you were to ask any member of the Arizona soccer team to describe the squad this season, one phrase would surely arise: full of potential but simply could not finish.

    The latter part of the description proved to be the central issue for the Wildcats. In fact, a lack of offense at various points in the year led Arizona to finish 6-13-1, with a 1-7-1 record in the Pacific 10 Conference – good for ninth place.

    “”It’s been quite the season,”” said defender Claire Bodiya. “”There have been a few issues that needed to be worked out with giving it our all for all 90 minutes. But I feel we’re a great team. We just did not get results this year.””

    Arizona showed glimpses of its potential throughout the first five games of the season. The Wildcats began 4-1, including a shutout over then-No. 3 Texas. Arizona outscored its opponents 13-7 over the five games while allowing one or fewer goals in three of the contests.

    The offensive production came to a sudden halt beginning with the Wildcat’s Sept. 16 matchup with then-No. 10 Virginia.

    After dropping the match 4-0, Arizona struggled to find the net in four of the following five games, with all four losses coming by a score of 1-0.

    “”We started losing those close games that we should have won, could have won. And then (the disappointing losses) just kept continuing,”” said forward Jacqueline Broussard. “”I think it kind of goes back to fundamentals, like execution and making sure the ball gets in the back of the net, not just getting good looks.””

    Once Arizona finally began finding the net again, a new issue arose. In nine of the Wildcats’ final 10 games, Arizona fell behind at some point in the game, forcing the team to mount
    a comeback.

    The Wildcats accomplished that feat only once all season when they forged a 2-2 tie against Oregon on Oct. 21. Overall, Arizona finished 0-13-1 in games in which it trailed.

    “”As a group, we get tired playing the entire game,”” said forward Sarah Litt, “”and when you get scored on and are forced to make a comeback late in the game, that only makes things harder.””

    While chronic scoring woes can be blamed for many of the team’s disappointing results, another large factor could be the Wildcats’ backfield.

    Beginning with the loss of projected starter goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre to a knee injury before the season started, Arizona went on to lose two other goalies to injury.

    While the performance of each goalkeeper did not produce a negative effect, one could speculate the negative effects of multiple changes on defense.

    All of the goalies “”did a great job,”” Bodiya said. “”It is tough making so many changes, but regardless of who’s in the net, whenever you get a lot of goals scored on you, defenders always take it on themselves.””

    The Wildcats believe there were many highs to the year, one of which was Arizona’s ability to attack the net. The Wildcats outshot their opponents in the majority of their games.

    “”A lot of teams have come up to us and told us, ‘You guys are the best attacking team we’ve faced,’ “” Broussard said. “”So I think we can take that away. But we’ve got great speed in the front and we’re young in the midfield, so I think we’re only going to go up from there.””

    With 19 members of this year’s team still underclassmen, the Wildcats look forward to the future. In addition, three of the team’s four goalkeepers will be returning healthy.

    The most important thing the team will return is experience, said head coach Dan Tobias.

    “”We played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year, and that’s a good thing,”” Tobias said. “”But with that experience I think the future of the program looks bright, and we’re going to be back on top again real soon.””

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