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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Soccer running out of excuses

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily WIldcat UA hosts South Carolina, double overtime loss. Friday, Aug 26 2011.

In October of 2009, an Arizona Daily Wildcat article titled “Without change, soccer will fall” questioned the Arizona soccer team’s losing culture following a trend of players leaving the team at an alarming rate.

Almost two years to the day it was published, with the Wildcats holding a 0-9-2 record, that headline might still hold true, at least in terms of the success on the field. After tying Colorado 2-2 on Friday and losing on Sunday to Utah, the team is still winless one game past the midway point of the season.

Soon after that 2009 article was published, then-head coach Dan Tobias resigned in the middle of the season, leaving the team’s assistant coaches to pick up the pieces. One of those assistant coaches, Lisa Oyen, is now the head coach.

“We focus on the things we’re doing well,” Oyen said following Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Utah.

Therein lies the problem. It’s a coach’s duty to motivate players, and I do believe that’s Oyen’s intention. But how can a program get away from this losing culture if the focus in the locker room is on the positives for a team that has yet to win a game?

How many positives can there be?

This season, Arizona has been outscored 26-5 and outshot by nearly nine shots per game. Before this past weekend, the team was outscored 21-2. The low point of the season came against the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal, when the Wildcats lost 7-0, and were outshot 29-9 and 20-0 in the first half alone.

Dating back to last season, Arizona has lost 17 of its last 20 games, and two of those non-losses were the two ties from this season.

When Arizona tied Texas Tech 0-0 a few weeks ago, there seemed to be a general sense among coaches, players and fans that it might be the turning point in the season — things were going to get better.

There was a sense of joy, and that’s understandable considering the team was 0-7 prior to that game. Any sort of positivity was a good thing.

But the fact that a team has reached the point where it’s OK with a non-loss, as opposed to being disappointed with a non-victory, is concerning.

On Oct. 3, 2009, the Arizona Wildcats held a lackluster 3-7-1 overall record at this point in the season. That team went on to finish the season 4-15 overall amidst the turmoil resulting from a coaching change and mass exodus from the roster.

When Tobias stepped down, numerous players were already leaving the program because of the instability. That whole debacle may have set the program back a few years and, despite the unfortunate situation Tobias left Oyen, she has done a respectable job recruiting and rallying her troops into competing every outing.

However, Arizona will be under the microscope for the remainder of the season. Being winless at the midway point of the season is simply unacceptable.

The culture must change.

The future of the soccer program seems bright because of 15 underclassmen currently on the roster, along with a recruiting class that features two top-100 recruits, according to

Until the team starts winning some games, however, saying, “the future is bright” and “the program is rebuilding” will be repetitive and excusatory.

At what point does the rebuilding end?

— Zack Rosenblatt is a junior studying journalism and Italian. He can be reached at

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