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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pride gives soccer motivated mentality

    The Arizona soccer team has entered the part of the season every sports team hopes to avoid. After being eliminated from NCAA Tournament contention with a pair of losses last weekend, the Wildcats still have three games left to play -ÿand not easy ones at that.

    Arizona (6-10-1, 1-4-1 Pacific 10 Conference) heads to California for the weekend to take on No. 4 USC (11-2-2, 3-1-1) today at 3 p.m., then the No. 1 team in the country, UCLA (12-1-2, 5-0), on Sunday afternoon at 2.

    Defender Savanah Levake said pride is the team’s primary motivation, as not much else remains.

    “”We want to prove that we are a good team,”” she said. “”This team has so much potential – we just didn’t have a fortunate year.

    “”Our record didn’t prove we had a good year, but beating USC, UCLA and ASU (the team’s final regular-season opponent) would definitely make people think, ‘This team is good, and they can play with the best teams in the nation.’ “”

    Despite sitting in ninth place in the Pac-10 and a 2-9-1 stretch that began on Sept. 16, feelings of failure do not envelop the Wildcats.

    “”It’s not like we haven’t been playing well, because we really have,”” forward Sam Drees said. “”We just can’t score, and in the end, that’s what you need.

    “”But we really just want to gain our respect back, because right now we don’t really have any.””

    Some extra motivation Arizona has going into this afternoon’s matchup with the Women of Troy has to do with Harold Warren, USC’s first-year assistant head coacha and a former Wildcat assistant coach.

    Over the previous four seasons, Warren coached alongside head coach Dan Tobias, helping the team to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in 2005 as well as assisting in recruiting several of the team’s current players.

    Drees said playing against her former coach is a “”huge motivation”” for her and many of her teammates.

    “”We want to just beat the hell out of USC,”” she said. “”We were all pretty bummed about him (leaving). So we want to show Harold that he shouldn’t have left us.””

    To accomplish this, the Wildcats must overcome their scoring woes, and do so quickly. The Trojans have given up only two goals in their last 11 games. Goalkeeper Kristin Olsen sits atop the Pac-10 in shutouts with six while also ranking second in the conference in save percentage.

    The Wildcats have shown signs of life offensively over the past couple of weeks.

    Beginning with 1-0 victory over Oregon State on Oct. 19, Arizona scored four goals in a three-game span – the team’s most in a three-game stretch since the opening weekend.

    “”We’ve been able to create good chances around the goal all season and were fortunate enough to put a few away,”” Tobias said. “”Hopefully, we can now build off those.””

    Although the Wildcats could not accomplish their primary goal of a Tournament berth, Tobias said there are still some goals remaining for his team.

    “”This team still has a chance to finish with the third-best record in the program,”” he said. “”We also could still finish in the top half of the conference, and whenever you have a chance at that you prepare accordingly.

    “”We owe it to ourselves and to the department and all the people who preceeded us to prepare our best so we can give our best (today) and Sunday, and that’s what we’re going to do.””

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