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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The big ‘O’

Arizona soccer forward London King dribbles past a UCLA defender Sunday in a 2-0 loss at Murphey Field. The Wildcats lost to both No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 USC over the weekend but have maintained a greater offensive production this season compared with 2007.
Arizona soccer forward London King dribbles past a UCLA defender Sunday in a 2-0 loss at Murphey Field. The Wildcats lost to both No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 USC over the weekend but have maintained a greater offensive production this season compared with 2007.

The Arizona soccer team’s offensive transformation from last season to its current form is nearly miraculous.

And although both UA head coach Dan Tobias and the rest of the team claim they make no comparisons to last year, doing so yields some fairly signif-

icant results.

Last season the Wildcats finished the season with a 13-goal deficit to their opponents, 35-22.

This year, the Wildcats (8-6, 1-2 Pacific 10 Conference) have opened an eight-goal advantage over their foes through 14 games. With six games remaining, Arizona should easily eclipse last year’s scoring total – despite last weekend’s dual-shutout setback at the hands of No. 7 USC and No. 3 UCLA – as the team currently sits at 19 for the season.

The Wildcats also averaged just over one goal per game in 2007, thanks in part to a strong start to a season in which they scored 13 goals in their first five games. However, Arizona also suffered eight shutout losses while only collecting three of its own.

This year, big statistical changes have occurred again as the Wildcats are averaging nearly 1.5 goals per game with a shot percentage close to 1.4.

“”I think just we’re tucking away chances,”” said Tobias of his team’s strong offensive effort. “”If you create quality chances, like dunk and layup-type chances around the goal, you give yourself a chance.

“”And this year we’re tucking more of them away.””

The Arizona players point to various different reasons for the team’s drastic improvement in offensive production.

Midfielder Karina Camacho – one of the team’s leading scorers with four goals – said she felt the team’s newfound knack for scoring stems from a greater sense of community within the locker room.

“”We get along a lot better and understand each other more both on the field and off the field,”” Camacho said. “”We understand each other’s tendencies and where we’re going to be and we’re just more aggressive in the attacking third.””

Another major factor playing into Arizona’s success this season could be traced back to the offseason recruiting executed by Tobias and his coaching staff.

To this point in the season, five freshmen have seen action with three playing in at least eight of the Wildcats’ games.

Combined, the first-year players have accounted for three of Arizona’s assists and five of its goals.

In fact, all five of the freshmen’s goals have come from one source: outstanding forward Renae Cuellar.

“”It helps to have more developed players around you,”” said forward London King. “”I definitely think our recruiting was good this year.

“”It just helps all around when I feel like our forwards and midfielders are clicking, which I believe we are.””

With so many young personalities on the field, leadership has become a large factor throughout the season. But with the Wildcats losing only four seniors from last year’s squad, several veterans have stepped up and filled the role of leader in each line.

Up front, the main leader is senior King, who is also tied with Camacho as the team’s second-leading scorer with four goals.

Through her career, in which King has played in at least 20 games each season, she has scored 16 goals – the most of any active Arizona player.

Even though scoring may be her forte, King’s main job this season has been commanding the young Arizona front line.

“”London and our other leaders keep everyone composed and confident, and when you have them in every line it keeps everyone poised, calm and keeps them on task,”” Tobias said. “”I don’t see us panicking or getting deflated or worried; no one looks like there’s any chaos.

“”The mature teams keep fighting,”” Tobias added. “”They keep playing and they say, ‘Hey, things are going to turn our way we just have to stick together.'””

Arizona has exemplified this characteristic well so far this season as the Wildcats have seen overtime action in five games.

This area is perhaps the most unchanged from last year’s team as Arizona went 2-1 in overtime games, whereas this season the Wildcats find themselves 3-2 when contests go to extra minutes.

Tobias said this trait could prove key as the Pac-10 season roles on.

“”We definitely have experience (in OT),”” Tobias said. “”Those things prepare you for all the one-goal, tight games you’ll be playing in the conference and the NCAA Tournament.””

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