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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Soccer’s Miller ‘the standard’ in 2005-2006

    Senior midfielder-forward Mallory Miller’s breakthrough 2005 season began not with the Arizona soccer team in its season opener against Missouri but rather during a summer jaunt with the Arizona Heatwave, a semi-professional team based out of Goodyear, Ariz.

    While leading the team to a second-place finish in its division, she conferred often with teammate Jennifer Klein, a fellow senior midfielder who joined the Wildcats alongside Miller in 2002.

    “”The whole summer, it was like, ‘Jen, we’re going to get it done. We’re going to do great things,'”” Klein said. “”I kind of knew something was going to happen and that she was going to do a good job.””

    Good? Try transcendent.

    As a starting forward for the first time in her career, Miller all but carried the Wildcats to 11 wins and their first Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA College Cup.

    Her 19 goals more than tripled her previous career high of six, earned in 2004 when Arizona set a program record for wins, and kept the Wildcats competitive despite the loss of two key seniors.

    “”It just kind of seemed like everything came together finally,”” said Miller, the 2005 Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Year. “”I trained hard a lot over the summer and luckily it came and showed out on the field.””

    It showed to the tune of 12 new team records, two of which (career and single-season assists) she already owned.

    Miller’s goal total surpassed senior forward Kelly Nelson’s old mark by six, and her nine game-winning goals more than doubled the four former forward Candice Wilks scored the season before.

    “”I think that actions speak louder than words, and what she showed on the field is basically why she deserves to be that player (of the year),”” Klein said. “”She’s the leading goal scorer, Pac-10 Player of the Year and just probably the best teammate. I think every senior on the team would say she’s probably one of the best teammates out there and best players to play with.””

    Arizona head coach Dan Tobias said Miller’s ability to change herself from a career midfielder to an offensive force reflected a drive toward self-improvement manifested in not only how she practiced but also how she rested and balanced athletics with academics.

    “”That mentality, from the first day, was truly the difference,”” he said. “”I call her ‘The Standard.’ She has set the standard for our program for individual players.””

    Though her eligibility with Arizona is up, Miller said she has no plans of leaving the game in the near future.

    She expects to room with Klein again this fall as the two work as assistant coaches with the Arizona Rush, a local club team, for its 2006-2007 season.

    Miller’s also holding out hope that the Women’s United Soccer Association, a professional league that suspended its operations in September 2003, will be up and running again next year.

    “”I thought I was going to be done, but now I’m kind of leaning toward keep continuing with my career,”” Miller said. “”So, we’ll see.””

    Honorable mention: Robert Cheseret, track and field / cross country

    Senior All-American distance runner Robert Cheseret has won his fair share of awards and rewritten the Arizona record books in his four years as a Wildcat.

    A four-time outdoor, three-time indoor and two-time cross country All-American, Cheseret has been named the Pacific 10 Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Year the past two years after winning the conference meet the past two seasons.

    Besides placing second in the 3,000-meter at the NCAA Indoor Championships March 11 with a time of 8:04.15, he also holds Arizona records in the indoor 3,000m, indoor 5,000m and outdoor 5,000m and has the third-fastest 5,000m mark all-time in the Pac-10.

    But his greatest accomplishment was winning his first national title in the 5,000m at the 2004 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, said Fred Harvey, Arizona’s track and field head coach.

    Cheseret, however, said his favorite accomplishment was placing first in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships.

    “”And breaking all the school records,”” Cheseret said.

    But this year, Cheseret, who was selected as the Western Region Athlete of the Year, still has plenty of time left in the outdoor season to continue his dominance.

    “”The season’s not even over,”” Harvey said.

    -Cassie Blombaum

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