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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tough Bay Area road test on tap for soccer

    Tough Bay Area road test on tap for soccer

    After splitting the first weekend of Pacific 10 Conference play at home last week, Arizona hits the road for California with improved defensive and offensive skills.

    The Wildcats (8-5, 1-1 Pac-10) will take on No. 16 California (7-2-3, 0-1-1) today at 3:30 p.m. and No. 29 Stanford (7-5-1, 0-1-1) at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

    “”We responded to last Friday’s loss by playing well against Oregon State,”” UA head coach Dan Tobias said. “”We took much better care of the ball and scored some nice goals. We’ve had a very good training week, and we’re very prepared for this weekend.””

    Arizona played to a 0-0 double overtime tie against Cal last season.

    “”Cal is a very good team,”” Tobias said. Head coach “”Kevin Boyd is a very good coach in the conference, and his teams every year are very good and have a lot of impact and personality.””

    The Golden Bears have always been a stingy team defensively, so the Wildcats need to be more aggressive than they were last year, Tobias said.

    This seems to be a team consensus.

    “”This year we have a lot of people with speed, which we didn’t have as much of last year,”” sophomore forward London King said. “”Our whole team has been really aggressive lately, so I’m really excited to see how (Cal) will handle our aggressiveness.””

    Although Tobias suggested that there will be an added amount of pressure to be more precise when it comes to attacking, “”It’s a good pressure,”” King said. “”We thrive on it.””

    Even a week into conference play, Arizona has made drastic improvements already.

    “”Our confidence and our speed of play has gotten a lot better since last weekend,”” sophomore forward Gianna DeSaverio said.

    The efficiency of this improvement will be put to the test Sunday.

    Stanford has shut out its opponents in eight of its last 11 games, as sophomore goalie Alex Gamble boasts a 0.73 goals against average. Furthermore, the Cardinal are 9-2 in contests with the Wildcats, although they have dropped the two most recent matches between the schools.

    “”Keeping possession of the ball and staying tight on defense will help us against both teams this weekend,”” King said.

    The tight UA defense is arguably one of the strongest parts of the team.

    The back four defenders in juniors Claire Bodiya and Kaity Heath and sophomores Brianna Caceres and Savanah Levake, who has played every minute of every game this year, all played together last year and have developed a strong relationship on the field.

    “”They know what each other is going to do before they do it,”” King said.

    Still, everyone becomes a defender when the other team has the ball, Tobias said.

    “”We look at defending from a total team standpoint,”” he said. “”A lot of teams tend to rely too much on their goalkeeper and the back four to prevent goals.””

    To avoid this reliance, the Wildcats will try to keep the ball on the front half of the field.

    “”As soon as we lose the ball, we put pressure on their team, so they (will) give the ball up right away,”” DeSaverio said. “”That way they don’t wind up getting the ball in our defending area.””

    In order to do well this weekend, solid defense must be complemented by a sharp offense, both of which the team has worked on in practice this week.

    “”On any given day, anyone can score a goal,”” Tobias said. “”When you have (five) different players score their first career goal this season, it bodes well for you as you’re getting into thicker conference play.

    “”Since the start of conference play, we’ve really stepped it up as a group.””

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