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UA Women's Soccer Opens 2001 Season at No. 5 Nebraska
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 08/28/2001
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Aug. 28, 2001

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's soccer team (0-0) will kick off the 2001 season with a road contest at fifth-ranked Nebraska on Friday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. CDT.

ON THE WEB: A live webcast of Friday's game will be available over the internet at http://www.net.unl.edu/.

ABOUT ARIZONA: The Wildcats return 15 letterwinners, including nine starters, from last year's 3-15-2 team. The roster sports only 10 juniors and seniors, compared to a whopping total of 19 freshmen and sophomores.

Eight of the team's top 11 scorers from 2000 return to the field this year. With five goals and one assist (11 points), sophomore forward Liz Bartlett was the leading scorer a year ago. Senior forward Kristi Loro?a finished second in scoring, with four goals (eight points), followed by sophomore forward Sierra Cristiano's three goals and one assist (seven points).

Defensively, the Cats return senior Cassidy Guinn, senior Erin Nelson, junior Naomi Chu and sophomore Meaghan McNatt.

Senior goalkeeper Shannon Monti is back for her final season in the nets for the Cats. She was the UA's starting keeper in all 20 matches last year, registering a 2.59 goals-against average and 87 saves in 1459 minutes of playing time.

This year's recruiting class could be one of the best ever in the short history of the program. Ten freshmen and two juniors comprise a recruiting class the received honorable mention West Region laurels from SoccerBuzz.com. The Cats will also receive additional support from two redshirt freshmen -- Jenn Meintel and Tara Monteleone -- who both sat out last year after ankle surgeries.

ABOUT NEBRASKA: Preseason ranked No. 5 in the nation, Nebraska is the defending Big 12 champion. The Cornhuskers posted an astounding 22-2-0 mark last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Nebraska is coming off a 1-0 exhibition shutout of defending national champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill last Friday night.

The Huskers return 16 letterwinners, including eight starters, from last season's squad. Four of NU's top five scorers return, led by junior forward Christine Latham, who earned All-America honors in 2000 after racking up 23 goals and 11 assists (57 points). Fellow All-American Meghan Anderson tallied 12 goals and 15 assists (39 points), while senior forward Kelly Rheem notched five goals and 15 assists (25 points).

Head coach John Walker (Queen's University, 1987) brings a 126-24-3 career record into his eighth season with the Huskers.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH CATHY KLEIN: Second-year head coach Cathy Klein (SUNY-Cortland, 1987) holds an 3-15-2 mark at the helm of the Arizona program. She has a Division I career record of 60-56-3 over six years and is 82-109-8 in 11 years as a head coach.

Klein was named as the Wildcats' new head coach in January, 2000. She came to the UA after a five-year stint building a new women's soccer program at Iowa State. In four varsity seasons with the Cyclones, Klein garnered a 43-37-1 mark. Before Iowa State, Klein was head coach at Creighton and Division III schools Earlham College and Utica College.

THE REST OF THE STAFF: In her second season at the UA, Melissa Estrada (Creighton, 1995) followed Cathy Klein from Iowa State, where Estrada was part of Klein's coaching staff for four years. She assists with recruiting and works with the field players.

Assistant coach Casey Mann (Grand View College, 1997) enters his first season with the Wildcats. His primary responsibility at the UA is coaching the goalkeepers. His wife, Tanya Mann, is also lending a hand as a volunteer assistant.

2000 IN BRIEF: Under the direction of then-first-year head coach Cathy Klein, the squad finished the 2000 season with a 3-15-2 overall record that belies the progress which was actually made during the year. With a brutal schedule, the Wildcats played an unprecedented six nationally ranked teams, all in the final seven matches of the year.

Through a variety of events, including numerous injuries, Klein ended up with a group of only 15 players who were able to see action in more than half the season's games. Five freshmen and sophomores received the starting nod more than once.

The whole season, the Wildcats were just this close to a different outcome in many of their games. They played a school-record six overtime contests -- all within a nine-game stretch midway through the season. Ten of the season's 20 matches were decided by a margin of one goal or less. The squad set or tied 30 school records, including most overtime wins (two) and most corner kicks in a match (eight).

Although a late-season nine-game losing skid put a negative spin on the year, propects for the future looked bright. Five of the Cats' top 11 scorers were freshmen and sophomores, and of eight of those 11 were slated to return in 2001.

INDIVIDUALLY IN 2000: Despite missing the last two matches of the season because of illness, freshman forward Liz Bartlett was Arizona's leading scorer, with five goals and one assist (11 points).

Junior forward Kristi Loro?a was second in scoring with four goals (eight points), followed closely by freshman midfielder Sierra Cristiano's three goals and one assist (seven points). Five other players registered one goal or more during the season. Junior Erin Nelson was the team leader in assists, with three, although a total of eight Wildcats were credited with assists for the year.

Junior goalkeeper Shannon Monti saw the majority of minutes for the Cats, starting all 20 matches and garnering 87 saves and a 2.59 goals-against average. She combined with senior Inger Airheart for the UA's only shutout of the season on Sept. 30.

Junior defender Cassidy Guinn was named the team's Most Valuable Player, while Cristiano was selected the Most Improved Player. Bartlett was the team's Newcomer of the Year, and senior defender Niki Aguiar received the Coach's Award.

Guinn and Bartlett were both honorable mention All-Pac-10 selections, marking the first time since 1997 that a Wildcat received all-conference honors.

Senior defender Kate Nighswander-Will was a second team Academic All-Pac-10 honoree for the first time in her career. Guinn, Monti, Nelson, senior defender Ann Giallonardo, junior midfielder Twila Kaufman and senior forward Keri Kennedy-Weber all received honorable mention Academic All-Pac-10 laurels.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Wildcats will make their home debut next weekend, facing New Mexico on Friday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at Murphey Stadium. After that, they take on Southern Utah at home on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 1 p.m.

The following weekend, Arizona will hit the road again for a stretch that will see the Cats play six out of eight matches away from Tucson. The Cats play at West Virginia on Friday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. EDT, then will play at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 12 p.m. EDT.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE: All daily practices during the regular season, until Nov. 8, will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. The team will have weight-lifting sessions each Tuesday and Wednesday immediately after practice until 5:45 p.m.

Media are encouraged to attend all practices but are not permitted to converse with coaches or players during practice. Media can interview coaches and players after practice only. No pre-practice interviews will be permitted. All practices and games are conducted at Murphey Soccer Stadium, located at 15th Street and Plumer Ave.

MONTI'S MUSINGS: Each week throughout the 2001 season, senior goalkeeper Shannon Monti will be sharing her thoughts with fans via the official UA athletics web site, www.arizcats.com. In this week's installment, Monti talked about the team's experiences through the preseason.

RANKED OPPONENTS: Nine of the 18 opponents on Arizona's schedule this year are either preseason nationally ranked or are receiving votes for ranking.

In the NSCAA Coaches Poll, UCLA is No. 2, Nebraska is No. 5, Washington is No. 7, Brigham Young is No. 13, California is No. 14, Stanford is No. 15 and USC is No. 19. Arizona State and West Virginia both received votes for ranking.

The Soccer America Top 20 has UCLA at No. 3, Nebraska at No. 4, Washington at No. 9, California at No. 11 and Stanford at No. 14.

In the SoccerBuzz.com rankings, UCLA stands at No. 2, followed by #5 California, #8 Nebraska, #9 Stanford, #10 Washington and #21 Arizona State. Brigham Young and West Virginia received votes.

RANKED OPPONENTS, PART DEUX: The UA played six nationally ranked opponents last year, more than in any other season in the program's history. The Cats' opener this year against No. 5 Nebraska on Aug. 31 will mark the first time the UA has ever faced a ranked opponent in the first game of a season.

PAC-10 COACHES POLL: UCLA was tabbed by the league's coaches as the favorite to win the Pac-10 crown this year, while the Wildcats were picked to finish ninth, one spot higher than last season...

Pac-10 Preseason Women's Soccer Coaches Poll
1. UCLA
2. California
3. Washington
4. Stanford
5. USC
6. Arizona State
7. Washington State
8. Oregon State
9. ARIZONA
10. Oregon

NOTING THE PAC-10: The 2000 season was a very good one for the Pac-10 women's soccer teams. Seven conference squads earned NCAA tournament berths, the most ever in league history. UCLA was the NCAA runner-up, falling to North Carolina by a narrow 2-1 margin in the championship game.

SISTER ACT: The Wildcat roster features two pairs of sisters this year. Sophomores Liz and Samantha Bartlett are twins. Senior midfielder Erin Nelson and freshman defender Heather Nelson are also sisters.

CLOSE BUT...: The outcome of 10 of the Wildcats' 20 games last season was been decided by one goal or less. In the seven-year history of the Arizona soccer program, 55 matches have been decided by that one-goal-or-less differential.

ON LOCATION: Last year, Arizona garnered a 2-5-0 mark at home, was 1-8-1 on the road and was 0-0-1 in neutral matches.

TWICE IS NICE: Traditionally, the Cats have fared rather well when scoring two or more goals in a match. The UA won the only contest last season in which it scored more than two goals. Over the seven years of Wildcat soccer, the UA has a 28-17-1 record when scoring two goals or more.

LOCAL CONNECTION: The 2001 Wildcat roster features three players from Tucson high schools -- Kristi Loro?a (Canyon del Oro), Erin Nelson (Sabino) and Heather Nelson (Sabino). Six other players are from Phoenix-area high schools -- Christina Bobb (Mountain Pointe), Cassidy Guinn (Shadow Mountain), Jenn Meintel (Glendale Cactus), Tara Monteleone (Xavier College Prep), Shannon Monti (Shadow Mountain) and Courtney Russell (Glendale Cactus).

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