Aug. 13, 2002
Merely describing the 2002 University of Arizona women's soccer team as "young" would be a vast understatement. This year's Wildcat roster sports a total of 19 freshmen and sophomores, as opposed to only four juniors and seniors. To top it all off, fewer than half of the 23 players have even seen action in an Arizona uniform.
Head coach Cathy Klein could have her hands full, to say the least.
"This is the most talent that we've ever put togther. It's also the youngest team we've had, in terms of brand-new players and first-year newcomers," said Klein, who is entering the third year of her quest to turn the Wildcat soccer program around. "Our returnees must step up and lead this team in the first few games. Our new people have to come in fit, acclimate quickly and play hard from the very first practice."
The Cats return eight letterwinners, including six starters, from last season's 5-12-1 team. Included in that total are the year's top three scorers, who accounted for 60% of the offense on a squad that set a new school record for single season scoring.
Adding to that mix will be a pair of redshirt freshmen, 10 true freshmen and two transfers. There will certainly be plenty of new faces on the field for the Wildcats this year, but this could be the season that changes everything.
"We are solid all over the field. We are deep in the forward position, we are fast in the flank positions, we're athletic in the goal," said Klein. "We just need experience and the time to mature as a team. We are only going to get better.
"There are going to be some peaks and valleys in the road this year. I feel certain that, with time, this group is going to be the first to take us to the NCAA tournament. It might not be this year, but this group has the tools, work ethic and character to get us there."
Headlining the list of returnees along the frontline will be sophomore Candice Wilks, who finished last season as the Cats' top scorer with eight goals and three assists (19 points). She was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection and was named the UA's co-Newcomer of the Year.
Redshirt freshman Kelly Nelson sat out last year after an ACL tear and has the talent to push for a starting job up front this season.
A true freshman from Yorba Linda, Calif., Erin Clewett could also press for a starting position. A two-time All-Orange County and three-time All-CIF Southern Section choice while playing at Esperanza High School, Clewett finished her career with school records of 46 goals and 123 career points.
Two other true freshmen, Maggie MacCool and Mallory Miller, could split time between the frontline and midfield. MacCool is from Sammamish, Wash., and was the 2001 3A KingCo Player of the Year at Skyline High School. Miller was a three-time All-Arizona honoree at Tucson's Salpointe Catholic High School.
IN THE MIDFIELD
The midfield is the one area where the Cats are loaded again this year. It will also boast the most versatile players, as many of the midfielders are also slated for action at forward or defender.
One of only two seniors on this year's team, Naomi Chu could be looking at a starting job in the midfield, but she's also expected to see some time on defense. A starter in 40 of her career's 45 matches to date, Chu is considered the hardest-working returnee on this Wildcat squad.
Transferring to the UA from a nationally ranked Nebraska program, junior Lindsey Greenwood is an anticipated starter in the midfield or possibly up front. In her two seasons with the Huskers, she tallied six goals and seven assists (19 points) and played in back-to-back NCAA tournaments.
Redshirt freshman Courtney Moseley, another ACL victim last season, is also a potential starter in central midfield or central defense. She too is back at 100% and was considered the team's best player by the final week of spring action.
A pair of freshmen, Althea Jones and Lisa Kosena, could push for major minutes on the flanks or up front. The first-ever Wildcat signee from Canada, Jones is from Pickering, Ontario, where she played for St. Mary Catholic Secondary School and the Pickering Power club team.
Kosena, from Englewood, Colo., could play anywhere in the midfield or up front. She was an honorable mention All-Colorado selection while playing at Cherry Creek H.S.
Fellow freshman Jennifer Klein will play an integral role in central midfield or central defense. A four-year starter at Prescott (Ariz.) High School, Klein was a two-time All-Arizona and All-Desert Sky Region honoree. She was also an All-American in cross country.
Yet another freshman, Nikki David, is expected to see plenty of playing time this year in the midfield or the back. Coming from Manhattan Beach, Calif., David was a first team All-Bay League choice at Mira Costa High School.
Also a freshman, Traci Adler will provide added depth in the midfield. A native of Van Nuys, Calif., she was a three-time All-Mission League selection while playing at Notre Dame High School. She could see action up front, as well as in the midfield.
IN THE BACK
The Cats have more experience in the backfield than at any other position this year. Anchoring the UA defense this season will be sophomore Lindsey Peeples, who was one of three freshmen to start all 18 matches last year. She helped the 2001 Wildcat defense hold opponents to their lowest goal total in four years.
Another veteran is senior Tymarie Novak, who became an immediate starter last season after transferring from Cypress (Calif.) College. Notching one goal and 16 shots last year, Novak can play anywhere on the field for the Cats, although she expected to be a defensive mainstay this year.
After starting all 18 matches in 2001 at either midfield or up front, sophomore Vanesha Bailey has been moved to the backfield, where the Cats can most use her speed and athleticism. Bailey was second on the team in scoring last year, tallying six goals and five assists (17 points). She scored or assisted at least one goal in 10 of the season's 18 games.
Sophomore Cassie Daniels had also been slated for a move to the backfield from the frontline this year, but she will be redshirting for the season after suffering an ACL tear during the final game of spring play. Daniels played in 17 games, starting all but one and racking up four goals and four assists (12 points).
Junior Samantha Bartlett will see action this year at central defense or central midfield. She played in nine matches last year, tallying seven shots and one assist.
Another sophomore, Heather Nelson subbed-in for four matches in the backfield last year but will be redshirting this season after suffering an ACL tear at the beginning of the summer.
Freshman Shannon Pidd, a Tucson native, is the only newcomer slated to spend most of her time in the backfield. While playing at Catalina Foothills High School, Pidd was a two-time All-Arizona selection and a three-time All-Southern Arizona choice.
IN THE GOAL
With the graduation of two-year starter Shannon Monti, the starting goalkeeper spot is completely up for grabs by either of two incoming freshmen this year.
A transfer from UC Riverside, freshman Natalie Juarez earned a medical redshirt year in 2001 after breaking her leg during game action early in the season. She played in three matches for the Anteaters, starting one, and registered totals of 120 minutes, five saves and one goal allowed.
True freshman Amanda Martin earned All-Tennessee, All-Middle Tennessee and All-District II AAA laurels while playing for Franklin (Tenn.) High School. She was District II Defensive MVP twice and played for the Lady Express club team out of Brentwood, Tenn.
"We're going to be very young in the goal this year. We have two freshmen coming in, and they will compete head-to-head for that starting role," said Klein. "Initially, we thought Amanda would be the starter, and she did all the right things in terms of aiding her development and making herself better this summer. She made immense sacrifices to train at the highest level.
"However Natalie, being a transfer, has already had that first year of adjusting to collegiate athletics, so she has that advantage over Amanda. Amanda is a vocal, athletic, agile kind of goalkeeper, and Natalie has a no-nonsense approach to keeping the ball out of the net. I'm as curious as anybody to see who starts."
Ten home dates, including two tournaments, highlight the 2002 Arizona schedule. Of the 20 teams featured on this year's slate, eight competed in last season's NCAA tournament and six were either nationally ranked or receiving votes at the end of the 2001 season.
After a home exhibition against UTEP on Aug. 22, the Wildcats will officially kick off the 2002 season on Friday, Aug. 30, and Sunday, Sept. 1, playing host to Cal Poly, Detroit and Drake for the Wildcat Invitational. Cal Poly will open the tournament against Detroit in the first game on Friday, followed by the match between Arizona and Drake. On Saturday, Drake and Detroit face-off first, with the Arizona-Cal Poly match following.
The following weekend, Cathy Klein heads back to Ames, Iowa, to take part in the Iowa State Tournament on Friday, Sept. 6, and Sunday, Sept. 8. The Wildcats will take on Wisconsin in the first game on Sept. 6, then they face Northern Iowa in Sunday's action.
Three of the Cats' next four games will be on the road, as they are scheduled to play at Oklahoma on Sept. 15, at home against San Diego on Sept. 22, then at Belmont (Sept. 27) and at Kentucky (Sept. 29). Arizona returns to Tucson for its second home tournament of the season, the Arizona Tournament, on Friday, Oct. 4, and Sunday, Oct. 6. Saint Louis, Idaho State and Youngstown State will visit the Old Pueblo for the tourney action.
"With their signing classes, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Washington, Cal and Stanford are pretty much a lock for this year's NCAA tournament," said Klein. "I know that Washington State and Oregon State have made great strides with their recruiting, so there could be eight Pac-10 teams in the NCAA tournament. From what I can tell, it looks like we've made that jump as a conference."
Pac-10 play begins on Friday, Oct. 11, for the Wildcats as they head up to Tempe to take on rival Arizona State. A home weekend against UCLA (Oct. 18) and USC (Oct. 20) follows, then the UA goes north to play at Oregon (Oct. 25) and Oregon State (Oct. 27).
Arizona's final two home matches of the 2002 season will be against Washington (Nov. 1) and Washington State (Nov. 3). The Cats will end regular season action in the Bay Area, playing at California on Nov. 8 and at Stanford on Nov. 10.
"You have to win five games in the Pac-10 to be competitive, but five wins in this conference could get you into the NCAA tournament," said Klein. " There is no way any team in the Pac-10 can run the table this year. The conference is just too good now. There's no question that the Pac-10 is the best women's soccer conference in the nation, top to bottom."