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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats soccer team endured a tough opening weekend by dropping its first two matches against the University of San Diego and Pepperdine University.

Despite starting the season 0-2, Arizona faced two difficult squads, and there was already plenty to take away from the weekend’s games that shed light on what some of the Wildcats’ keys to success will be.

 

Goalkeeping: If you take a look at the scoring sheet over the weekend, you’ll see that opponents scored eight goals on Arizona. However, this doesn’t do freshman goalkeeper Lorena Aragon justice, as she earned the praise of head coach Lisa Oyen for her college debut. Aragon made key saves as both matches went on, and according to Oyen, some of the goals allowed were due to errors on part of the defense and not Aragon. Either way, this position is a wildcard for the Wildcats, as they have junior Ashley Jett ready on the bench with the only other collegiate soccer experience — freshman Jamie Wilkinson rounds out the trio of keepers. If Oyen’s praise of Aragon was any indication, it seems that Arizona will stick with the young freshman for the time being and hope that she continues to evolve into a promising player at the position.

 

Freshmen Play: With 12 freshmen on the roster, this amount of youth can be sliced two ways: positively, in that they will be hungry to rebuild the program, or negatively, in that the team lacks a great veteran presence. Seven of the newcomers made their debuts in the opening weekend, including international competitor Ana Montoya, strong defender Kenzie Ackerfelds and talented forward Jazmin Ponce. The freshmen class features a wide variety of skill sets that will give Oyen plenty of options to mix and match, and it remains to be seen how the young Wildcats will respond to a rigorous Pacific 10 conference schedule.

 

Avoiding early deficits: One theme over the weekend was Arizona’s ability to fight back and put together a stronger second half than in the first. However, this meant that the Wildcats were always playing from behind, and in Sunday’s match against Pepperdine, three goals allowed in the first 10 minutes put Arizona away despite battling to lose 4-2. If the Wildcats can establish a mentality of playing behind from kickoff, then they will surprise and beat strong sides.

 

Renae Cuellar: Arizona’s top offensive threat flashed the skills that make her dangerous in every match over the weekend. Cuellar was involved in all three goals the Wildcats scored in their first two games, assisting teammate Brittany Cole against USD and striking two goals of her own against Pepperdine. While Oyen was careful not to say that UA will rely on Cuellar to provide all the thunder for offense, she will undoubtedly be the target for opponents to shut down, which will likely lead to scoring opportunities for her teammates. If Cuellar continues to play at an elite level, it will greatly strengthen the chances that the Wildcats have to make some noise in the Pac-10.

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