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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona soccer heads to Sun Devil Desert Classic

The Arizona (2-2) women’s soccer team has been missing its team leader, and arguably its best defender, in senior Alex Smith. Smith hasn’t played in any of the team’s four games after undergoing surgery to repair a crushed lateral meniscus she obtained over the summer during a workout session.

Luckily for the UA, she will return as the Wildcats try to upset No. 10 Pepperdine (4-1) on Friday in Tempe, Ariz., at the annual Sun Devil Desert Classic.

“I’m really excited I can’t wait to get back on the field and actually play,” Smith said. “It’s been awhile of me just watching practice so I’m excited to get back in there and also to get into a game.”

In the last meeting at a San Diego tournament on Aug. 29, 2010, the Waves beat the Wildcats 4-2. Arizona’s poor performance in the opening 10 minutes of the game cost it the win, head coach Lisa Oyen said.

“They love to run with the ball taking you on one (on) one,” Smith said. “So we have been working on one (on) one defending that way if someone does get beat we know how to transition to cover that.”

In her absence, Smith believes defensively Arizona has been “sound” and that her return is just another asset for a stronger backline.

Offensively, the Wildcats will set the tone for the game if they can continue to put pressure on Pepperdine’s backline with an aggressive attacking style. However, the offensive line will also need to capitalize on its defensive skills to contain the ball within striking distance of the goal.

“It will make it so much easier for everyone to fill in defensively from there making the game a lot more predictable when the forwards do their job in defending because we can win the ball early and counter,” Smith said.

Arizona will take Saturday as an opportunity to prepare for Sunday’s match against first time opponent Houston (3-3-0).

“We will probably have a walk through training session at ASU’s field where we will just prepare and talk about Houston because this whole week we have been preparing for Pepperdine,” Smith said.

— Iman Hamdan can be reached via Twitter @imanhamdanDW

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