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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Soccer team embarks on first trip of season

    Last season was not what the Arizona soccer team expected.

    After a hot start through the first five games, in which the Wildcats went 4-1, nothing seemed to go quite right.

    Through the remainder of the season, Arizona won only two more games while being shutout eight times. All of this came on top of being reduced to a backup goalkeeper, who was brought onto the team only after the previous three keepers became sidelined with injuries.

    The positive end of the Wildcats’ 6-13-1 2007 year was motivation, and a goal was set to not suffer through it again.

    That is why head coach Dan Tobias suggested the team show up a few weeks early, in mid-July, to begin camp and hopefully cure what ailed his previous team.

    Thus far, the strategy has worked, as Arizona redeemed last year’s opening-night loss with a win against Cal Poly last Sunday night.

    Now the Wildcats can make it 3-0 with a pair of road wins this weekend against Utah and BYU tonight and Monday afternoon, respectively.

    “”I think (starting early) makes a big impact,”” Tobias said. “”We have the new freshman in summer school so not only are they getting acclimated to campus, but to the program and to their teammates.

    “”Just having more time to do that as opposed to having just two training sessions,”” Tobias added, “”makes a huge difference.””

    Tobias hasn’t been the only one to notice the difference as players also acknowledged the benefit of the extra time, which became evident in Arizona’s 1-0 win over the Mustangs in Sunday night’s opener.

    Although Arizona managed only a single goal, forward London King said she felt Arizona’s offensive attack appears strong.

    “”We weren’t exactly fluid (in the opener) but I think we’ll get better,”” King said. “”We just need to find our rhythm. The more games we play, (the more) it helps us develop connections with our other forwards, and I think we’ll be good this year because our attacking forwards are awesome.””

    One area in which Arizona appeared to show similar form from last year against Cal Poly was its strong defense.

    Last year, despite the offensive struggles, the Wildcats’ back line held opponents to one or fewer points in nine games.

    On Monday, nothing seemed to change other than the return of goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre, who missed all of 2007 after suffering a season-ending knee injury during the team’s first practice.

    “”Chelsea’s a terrific keeper so it’s great to have her back in goal,”” said defender Savanah Levake. “”It’s hard to find keepers since so few players play that position, so it’s really important to keep her healthy as well as everyone else on the field.””

    Health is not something the Wildcats have been able to maintain, even this far into the season, as two players already find themselves sidelined for the year.

    Midfielder Kristin Griffin broke a bone in her hip during workouts Saturday while freshman Brittany Cole tore her anterior cruciate ligament Sunday night.

    “”I hate to say it but injuries are just part of athletics,”” Tobias said. “”Both (Griffin and Cole) are super great people and really hard workers, it’s hard to lose them.

    “”But they’ll be back and we’ll just have to move on in the time being.””

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