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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Another soccer showdown

    UA midfielder Jacqueline
    UA midfielder Jacqueline

    Good thing the Arizona soccer team is off to a strong start this season; otherwise, all of these top-10 opponents the Wildcats continuously find themselves playing might get a tad frustrating.

    For the third weekend in a row, the Wildcats (4-2-0) will face a top-10 opponent. This time, No. 2 Santa Clara (4-0-1) comes into town for a Sunday afternoon showdown at 1. But first, Arizona gets a breather as it hosts Virginia Tech (3-2-1) 7 p.m. Friday. Both games will be played at Murphey Stadium.

    “”Honestly, it gets me more excited to play,”” said goalkeeper Danielle Nicolai of facing ranked opponents. “”It makes me want to step up my game and prove to the country that we are a good team.””

    The Wildcats are indeed making a case for themselves over the first three weeks of the season. Despite stumbling Sunday to then-No. 8 Virginia, and suffering a setback in its season opener, Arizona looks like a team with a lot of potential.

    The Wildcats carried a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s game, including a 2-0 shutout against then-No. 3 Texas.

    “”We ran into a really

    We played a lot individually against Virginia. We just need to get out there and talk. We’ll be fine.

    – Jasmin Day,
    sophomore

    good top-10 team (Virginia) last weekend, but we have had success against a good top-10 team (Texas) at home,”” said UA head coach Dan Tobias. “”However, a single game is not going to decide our season. We’re going to take from it what we can learning-wise and move on.””

    For the Wildcats goalie Nicolai, learning apparently comes rather quickly. The freshman leads the Pacific 10 Conference in saves with 26.

    Nicolai became Arizona’s starting goalkeeper when Devon Wharf suffered a knee injury in the season opener against Utah.

    “”I’ve been getting more comfortable with understanding how (my teammates) play,”” Nicolai said. “”As each game goes, my comfort level gets a lot better.””

    Although Tobias is pleased with the performance of his young goalkeeper, he said he would prefer for his team to not lead the conference in saves.

    “”Danielle is doing a great job, but (the number of shots on goal allowed) is something we’ll have to work out defensively,”” Tobias said. “”However, I do feel that the majority of the shots we give up are from further away, and not many goals are going to be scored from that distance.””

    Fewer concerns arise on the offensive side. Several players have tallied goals this season, including defenders Kaity Heath and Claire Bodiya.

    But freshman forward Jasmine Day has led the attack so far, leading the team with three goals.

    Although some of the Wildcats’ more prolific goal scorers, like midfielder Sam Drees, have yet to record a score, Arizona has found plenty of offense to fill the holes.

    “”It’s a matter of time before our big goal scorers get going,”” Tobias said. “”But until then, they’ll keep doing what they’re doing and help open up opportunities for other people, which has been working thus far.””

    Arizona finished a game without a goal for the first time this season against Virginia. To avoid a repeat performance this weekend, Day said the team needs to improve ball movement and general on-the-field teamwork.

    “”We played a lot individually against Virginia,”” Day said. “”We just need to get out there and talk. We’ll be fine.””

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