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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Soccer looks to regain spirits

    UA forward Sally Thurner, middle, dribbles the ball toward the net in a 2-1 win over California State Northridge at Murphey Stadium on Sept. 21. The Wildcats will play their last  nonconference game this weekend at Santa Clara.
    UA forward Sally Thurner, middle, dribbles the ball toward the net in a 2-1 win over California State Northridge at Murphey Stadium on Sept. 21. The Wildcats will play their last nonconference game this weekend at Santa Clara.

    Following Wednesday’s practice at Murphey Field, Arizona soccer head coach Dan Tobias made it a point to stop a few of his players as they got into their cars and give them some encouraging words.

    Mostly these words dealt with their performances at that specific practice.

    After last weekend’s stumble in which the Wildcats (6-4) were shutout at home in a pair of disappointing matches, Tobias – and the rest of his team – are focusing on keeping their spirits high and rebuilding the confidence Arizona showed in its first eight games of the season.

    The Wildcats will get their last chance before the Pacific 10 Conference season opens this weekend when they travel to Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday to take on the Broncos (3-6-2).

    “”We want to get back to playing like we felt we played in the first seven and a half games,”” Tobias said. “”We were shutting teams down on both sides of the ball, creating good chances, and doing a good job of keeping the ball.

    “”Now we just need to rebuild back to the point where we are satisfied with where we are at the midway point.””

    Regaining its form will be essential for Arizona as the Pac-10 season is setting up to be rather difficult. At 6-4, the Wildcats currently sit in ninth place in the conference standings as seven teams come into the final week of non-conference play with two or fewer losses – including Arizona State, who Arizona opens the conference season against.

    One key for the Wildcats will be to regain their composure offensively. Last weekend, Arizona barely touched the ball against its Friday opponent, Long Beach State. As a team, the Wildcats were outshot 12-5 with only three being on target.

    The ratio worsened Sunday against Santa Barbara in a game Tobias said was “”slightly better than Friday, but still nowhere near our best.””

    Arizona was outshot 18-6 as goalkeeper Chelsea McIntyre was forced to protect the net eight times while her own offense only finished with three shots on goal.

    “”We know we have to control the ball better,”” defender Sammy Tiampo said. “”But we have so much talent we can unleash on other teams. We’re not too worried about (the lack of scoring).””

    On the defensive end, while the Wildcats may be happy to have only allowed three goals last weekend despite their opponents’ offensive onslaught, allowing multiple goals for a team already with four shutouts on the year has been a bit of a concern.

    Coming into this Sunday’s game, Arizona is tied for fifth in the Pac-10 for goals allowed with eight. This number translates to less than one per game, however, in a stingy conference where Arizona’s shutout total is only good enough for seventh out of 10 teams, this weekend could also prove to be crucial from a defensive standpoint.

    “”I think the biggest (factor last weekend) was winning balls in the air,”” said defender Amy Steiner. “”We just need to get better position and become more organized.

    “”Things were just a little off (last weekend),”” Steiner added. “”But things have been a lot better this week in practice so we’ll be fine.””

    With a couple more days of practice before its final out-of-conference game, the Wildcats’ players and coaches both feel – despite last weekend’s disappointments – that they’re almost where they want to be at the season’s midway point.

    “”We always take the season in pieces,”” Tobias said. “”For non-conference it’s keep building to the point that where when we finish the non-conference season – which is this weekend ð- we have played our best soccer thus far, but our best soccer is still yet to come heading into the conference season.

    “”I think we’re close.””

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