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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona ready to begin home schedule

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Wildcats soccer team is ready to put its first two losses of the season behind it as the Wildcats are set to match up against Northern Arizona (0-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday, and Cal Poly (2-1) at 7 p.m. on Sunday with both games taking place at Murphey Field and Mulcahy Stadium.

After a week of practice that consisted of fine-tuning some of the errors from last weekend, head coach Lisa Oyen felt the Wildcats showed a better grasp of what she wanted to see tactically.

“”Something that we did this week is work on just better organization defensively, I think that was a little bit of a downfall for us over the weekend.”” Oyen said. “”We want to see better organization, better communication and for the whole team dynamic, not just our back four. We saw a better, more coherent understanding of what we’re trying to do more as a group.””

With an influx of 12 freshmen to the squad, it’s no surprise that communication was a focal point during practice, especially given the importance of being in sync on defense.

Senior Becky Barry, who is entering her fifth year in the Arizona program, talked about how becoming a more cohesive unit will come with time as teammates get a better understanding of each other’s style of play.

“”I think right now we’re figuring out positions vocally, physically, and we’re just adjusting to everyone and trying to find good communication,”” Barry said.

“”Reading each other’s body language and knowing where each other are, we want to really just have a good idea of when people shift and move so that we’re all going together as a unit and as a team.””

Arizona allowed eight goals to its two opponents last weekend on what Oyen described as lapses on the part of the defense.  

If the Wildcats were able to sure up their back four, it would allow their potent offense to put them in a position to win.

“”We’ve worked on a lot of defending, which is appropriate given our past weekend,”” Barry said. “”I think we have a great group of attackers; we’re very creative and dangerous so scoring goals will come, but we have to keep the ball out of the back of the net.””

In Sunday’s match against Pepperdine, Arizona allowed three goals in the first 10 minutes, but the Wildcats put together a strong following 80 minutes and lost the game 4-2.

That game was an example where the offense’s scoring ability proved to be too little too late, as UA was playing catch-up for most of the game and trying to make up for early errors on defense.

“”I think after last weekend, that’s enough motivation for us to have a better first half,”” Oyen said.

“”You can set everything up as best you can where you put your players in a position where they come out stronger, but at the end of the day it’s them making the decision of how they want to start the game.”” she added.

Led by scoring artist junior Renae Cuellar on offense and sophomore Alex Smith on defense, Oyen is confident that the Wildcats can become a more complete team with strong enough personnel in place to have balance on both sides.

But as the Wildcats look for their first win of the season against NAU, Oyen was sure not to take away from their ability to put the ball in the back of the net, hoping that the defense will naturally find its form.

“”Fortunately, over the weekend we were able to score some goals, so during the week we made sure that our team was still keeping up with that so we’re not so focused on defense that we lose track of the things that have been successful for us,”” Oyen said.

As far as preparing for NAU and Cal Poly, Barry was ready to expect anything from either opponent, knowing that this early in the year every team is hungry for a win.

“”It’s the beginning of the year so everyone is trying to make their identity, and they want to win early on to build some momentum,”” Barry said. “”We’re just trying to do everything we can to build momentum for ourselves and to get the best result that we can.””

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