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20070820 2007 Soccer Preview
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 08/20/2007
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Experience is the buzz word around the Arizona soccer program theses days. A year removed from a roster that featured 19 freshmen and sophomores, the 2007 Wildcats are game-tested and ready to take on the challenges of the upcoming season.

Fifth-year head coach Dan Tobias, who?need only three seasons to become UA's winningest coach,?has already seen the maturity and experience taking over his squad.

ˇ?The great thing we have now is game day experience,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?Last year 19 of the 23 players we had were either freshmen or sophomores, and that same group is now a year older and wiser. I think anytime you can get a lot of game experience against quality opponents itˇ?s going to help you the following year. I know weˇ?ve got a very motivated group of returners and an exciting group of newcomers ready to get going.ˇ±

Dan and Lisa

After getting off to a hot start last season, the youthful Wildcats learned quite a few painful but valuable lessons during the final month of the 2006 campaign. A final record of 8-10-2 against a very tough schedule gave UA a taste of both the good and the bad of a regular season

?ˇ?We saw stretches of our talent in 2006,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?The lesson learned was that our performance on the field didnˇ?t always match our ability. We know we underachieved, not just with our results, but our performance overall on a game-by-game basis. We are a very performance driven program and when we play well on any given day weˇ?re capable of beating anybody. We just didnˇ?t close out games on a consistent basis last year.ˇ±

?The core of the most experienced players on the team ?C like seniors Kaity Heath and Clair Bodiya, as well as juniors London King, Savanah Levake and Brianna Caceres??C are all players that have not only the hard scrabble experience from last year, but are a solid group that has already led the UA program to heights that had previously never been accomplished in Tucson. Among the accolades already on a number of the current rosterˇ?s resume include a 2004 Pac-10 championship, UAˇ?s first-ever NCAA appearance and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2005.

Another built-in advantage for the experienced Cats is that for the first time since Tobias arrived in 2003 there is a relatively small incoming freshman class.

ˇ?Out of necessity weˇ?ve had to bring in large numbers of newcomers ?C classes of nine, 10 or 11 new players ?C and that is a lot of people to integrate into the program. Now were in a position where itˇ?s nice that we have a solid foundation and that we have six very talented freshmen coming in.ˇ?

While the grown-up Wildcats feel ready to take on all comers, their coach definitely wonˇ?t let them get complacent.

ˇ?I tell the team all the time that as we get better, so does the rest of the Pac-10,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?They understand the need to put forth their best every day and do things the right way to maximize our ability. Having said that, I like the group that we have for this season, I really like them a lot!ˇ±

Offense

A potent offense returns mainly intact from last season, with four of the top five point leaders coming back. The departure of 2006 top goal-scorer Gianna DeSaverio to be closer to her home in Colorado will certainly sting, but Tobias envisions an offense that will feature not just one or two threats to score, but a host of players with the capability of putting the ball in the back of the net.

ˇ?When I look at our attacking personalities this season, we could have four or five players scoring 10 or more goals,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?Weˇ?ve got an abundance of players (that can score for us) and the mentality is that nobody cares who does. As long as we create high quality chances on a consistent basis and weˇ?re putting the ball away, our offensive players are going to be really happy.ˇ±

Another factor in 2006 that was both a blessing and a curse at the same time was injuries. A number of players missed significant time during the regular season last year; however their absence forced other healthy players to cross-train in different positions on the field.

ˇ?We have a lot of players that are coming back and that are close to100 percent healthy for the first time,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?We have so many playmakers and weapons that all of them can put the ball in the back of the net.ˇ±

Forwards

Junior London King, the top returning scorer from last season and a 2006 All-Pac-10 selection, enters her third year in the program with eight career goals and 18 total points. Her primary spot is up front but she has adapted into a versatile player both as a forward and in the midfield.

King

ˇ?Londonˇ?s been a striker her whole career but because of some injuries last year we played her as our attacking central midfielder for a good portion of the season,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?That position is still an attacking one and I believe that playing there last year has made her better overall and enhanced her ability as a scoring threat.ˇ±

Sophomore Laura Huylebroeck came in as a talented freshman last season and earned a starting role right from the get go. An injury in the second game of the season derailed what looked to be a promising season and nagged her throughout the year.

Huylebroeck

ˇ?After injuring herself early on Laura spent the rest of the season battling her way back to 100 percent health,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?Despite the injury, she did a great job for us last year and she had a really great spring season. Sheˇ?s a player thatˇ?s come a long way in the last year and I know sheˇ?s excited about what she will bring to this yearˇ?s team.ˇ±

Versatile sophomore Jasmine Namdar is another adaptable player that can fill any number of roles on the field. Be it up front as a forward or back as an attacking midfielder.

Namdar

ˇ?Jasmineˇ?s a player that has a great ability to properly position herself to score goals. Sheˇ?s another player that we have the flexibility of playing her up front or playing her some in midfield,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Weˇ?ll take advantage of her skills on the field in different positions on different days throughout the yearˇ±.

Another promising sophomore that was limited to just five matches in 2006 because of injury is sophomore Sam Drees.

ˇ?Sheˇ?s gotten to the point where she is 100 percent mentally and physically healthy,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?Sam had a very solid final month in the spring and is another one that has the ability to play up front for us or any of the four positions in midfield.ˇ±

Among the small, but talented freshman class newbie Jackie Zinke has already caught the eye of her coach.

ˇ?Jackieˇ?s the sleeper of the entire 2007 recruiting class,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Not just on our team, but regionally and nationally as well. She was the CIF player of the year in high school and she can play up front or in variety of positions. Itˇ?s still early, but I would be willing to bet weˇ?ll see her on the field a lot this season.ˇ±

?Adding depth up front are sophomore Analisa Marquez and freshman Sara Nicholson.

ˇ?Analisa has improved so much since first coming here. Sheˇ?s a tremendous athlete with a ton of potential which we saw a lot of during the spring. Sheˇ?s worked so hard on her game and has really developed into a more dangerous attacking presence. And Saraˇ?s a solid attacking player who will add depth in midfield or up front.ˇ±

Freshman high jumper Jasmine Day will crossover to the pitch this season in an effort to help the UA soccer squad.

ˇ?Sheˇ?s a tremendous athlete and she has some soccer experience,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Weˇ?re going to take advantage of her athleticism either up front or in midfield.ˇ±

Redshirt junior Sally Thurner, who appeared in 19 games last season, will most likely miss the 2006 season due to a knee injury.

Midfield

In addition to London King, Jasmine Namdar and Sam Drees who can all play in the attacking midfield spot, the Wildcats have a number of other options in the midfield in 2007.

In addition to London King, Jasmine Namdar and Sam Drees who can all play in the attacking midfield spot, the Wildcats have a number of other options in the midfield in 2007.

Sophomore Jacqueline Broussard played the majority of the 2006 season away from her natural position, but thrived in the role of a wide midfielder and could see time in any number of spots this year.

Brousard

ˇ?Jacqueline did an excellent job playing in a new spot last year and there were numerous times where she just turned defenders around.ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Sheˇ?s so smooth and effortless and you feel like something exciting will happen when she touches the ball.ˇ±

Senior Sarah Litt appears to be at the top of her game for her final season at UA. With 34 career matches played at Arizona, her experience and game-tested play should factor in heavily this year.

Litt

ˇ?Sarahˇ?s really turned the corner and she had her most productive spring of her career,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Sheˇ?s a wide midfielder and can hit a ball really well. She has a great opportunity to be a very productive player for us game in and game out.ˇ±

Sophomore Christina Hughes is one of a host of candidates that can easily fill a role in midfield with 12 games played in her redshirt freshman season last year.

ˇ?She can play either side of the field and sheˇ?s got a cannon with both feet. If sheˇ?s within 30 yards, has a good look at the frame and puts the ball on target, itˇ?s probably going in.ˇ± says Tobias.

Donˇ?t think the flair of a flip throw-in is all there is to sophomore Macke Mutz. The second-year Wildcat appeared in 15 contests as a freshman last season and adds great depth to the central midfield.

Mutz 2

ˇ?We put Macke in a ball-winning position a lot of the time which is a great role for her because sheˇ?s so good in the air,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Sheˇ?s a versatile player that can play in the midfield or slide back in the central defense.ˇ±

Redshirt freshman Alex Davis will get her first taste of action after sitting out the 2006 season

ˇ?Weˇ?re going to watch Alex in the early going and find a role that suits her best. Sheˇ?s a very good possession player in midfield.ˇ±

Freshmen Karina Camacho and Leila Amini are pair of newcomers that could become familiar faces on the pitch this year.

ˇ?Karina is a very exciting attacking midfielder with ability to score goals and play those pin point passes,ˇ± says Tobias.

ˇ?Leila can play any of three midfield positions ?C outside or in the attacking slot as well. She has real high energy and a great work rate. She can score goals and is a very good passer.ˇ±

Another newcomer to action this season is true frosh Kristin Griffin

?ˇ?Kristinˇ?s a very solid possession player and is a great addition to the team this fall because sheˇ?s a very good passer,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?She stops attacks really well and has a tremendous work rate.ˇ±

Sara Hemmings, a freshman transfer from Northern Colorado, is an intriguing athlete that will get a shot in the midfield during the preseason.

ˇ?Sara came in well prepared,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Sheˇ?s fit and has the right attitude. We are excited to see her develop.ˇ±

Defense

An organized and sound defense has been a hallmark of Tobiasˇ? teams in the past and the song remains the same in 2007.

ˇ?The more organized you are and the better positioned you are the fewer opportunities close to goal for your opponents,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?We play good, compact defense that doesnˇ?t allow a lot of time or space for the other team. Our back four has that nasty mentality that youˇ?re not going to even get a shot off.ˇ±

The basis of UAˇ?s sound defense begins with the Catsˇ? senior co-captains Claire Bodiya and Kaity Heath. The duo has been starters in the back third of the field from the moment they stepped on campus as freshmen in 2004 and have been rock solid ever since.

Bodiya

ˇ?Claire has always been a great organizer and leader of the back four,ˇ± says Tobias ˇ?Sheˇ?s always been a tough-as-nails defender, great in the air, a solid passer and a very difficult defender to beat. I think sheˇ?s made a point to improve herself in other areas and the conclusion is simple: She has.

ˇ?Meanwhile, Kaityˇ?s a traditional left sided defender and has always been a very good player for us. Having said that, I think this spring she realized that she can be more than just a player that sits back and defends. This season youˇ?ll see her more involved in the attack which I think will translate into more assists and goals.ˇ±

Heath 2

Junior Savanah Levake, who played in 19 of 20 matches as a sophomore and has 34 career starts to her name, looks like a player ready to bust out and demonstrate that sheˇ?s one of the top players in the Pac-10.

Levake

ˇ?Savanah just quietly goes about playing her role in the back,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?Itˇ?s often said that the best defenders are the ones you donˇ?t notice ?C They rarely get beat, they win the ball and then play it ?C and I think that is certainly true of Savanah. Sheˇ?s as steady as the come.ˇ±

Levakeˇ?s classmate Brianna Caceres returns after appearing in all 20 matches last year. A seasoned veteran, Caceres is a force in the back four but can also strike on the opposite end.

Caceres 2

ˇ?She remains a very solid defender, and now she has gotten a lot more involved in our attack. Last fall and in the spring she showed that sheˇ?s become a much better passer with the ability to play a variety of balls out of the back.

?A team-oriented jack-of-all-trades player, Sammy Tiampo played no less than six different positions as a freshman in 2006 and made her impact felt all over the field.

Tiampo 2

ˇ?Sammyˇ?s a player that will move to any position on the field in order to help her team. She has the ability to play any of the back four positions and a number of spots in the midfield as well. Anywhere we put her she gets the job done.ˇ±

Sophomore Becky Barry enters her second season at UA as one of Tobiasˇ? most-improved players.

ˇ?Beckyˇ?s done a great job of improving her game in all areas and can play either on the outside or in central defense. Iˇ?m looking forward to seeing her continued development,ˇ± says Tobias.

Freshman central defender Lauren Bennett enters her first season with the added benefit of learning under UAˇ?s two stalwart seniors in Bodiya and Heath.

ˇ?Laurenˇ?s such a strong central defender and sheˇ?s very good in the air. She wins a ton balls and restarts the attack very effectively. Weˇ?re really happy to be adding her to our program this year and she comes at nice time where she can really benefit from learning from our upperclasspersons, especially Claire and Kaity.ˇ±

Goalies

For a second straight season an injury prior to the preseason will lead to a new face in goal. Junior Chelsea McIntyre, who started all 20 games in net for Arizona last season, injured her knee and will most likely be lost for the year. Stepping up for the Cats will be junior Devon Wharf.

Wharf, a member of the Canadian U-15, U-16 and U-18 squads as a youth player, was set to battle McIntyre for the starting role in 2006 before losing nearly her entire season with a broken foot.

ˇ?Devon came in last season ready to challenge for the starting job but unfortunately was injured right before camp opened,ˇ± says Tobias. ˇ?She battled the injury all season and wasnˇ?t cleared to play until the final weekend of the year. We know sheˇ?s very capable of handling the duties and sheˇ?s not only learned a lot from watching McCall Smith and Chelsea each of the last two seasons, but she has a ton of athletic ability in her own right. We have a ton of confidence in Devonˇ?s ability so there is a lot of excitement surrounding her continued growth. Sheˇ?s off to a very good start in our preseason.ˇ±

?Backing Wharf up in the net will be freshman Danielle Nicolai.

ˇ?Danielle walked on in the spring and did a solid job for us,ˇ± Tobias says. ˇ?Sheˇ?s made very steady progress and will continue to do so with (assistant coach) John Galasˇ? guidance and expertise.ˇ±

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