TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona women’s soccer opened training camp on Tues., Aug. 6 under new head coach Tony Amato and assistants Paul Nagy and Kylie Louw.
Amato and staff welcome 13 new student-athletes to join 18 returning players. The Wildcats will practice every day leading up to their first match on Fri., Aug. 23 against Florida International. UA will host 10 home matches with the home opener schedule for Fri., Aug. 30 vs. UC Riverside, held at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium.
The Wildcats return 16 letterwinners, including five starters from the 2013 squad. Arizona welcomes 13 newcomers to the team in 12 freshmen and one transfer.
Senior Jazmin Ponce leads the Wildcats into the 2013 campaign. Ponce was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 First-Team, recording a total of 85 shot attempts and eight goals. During the 2012 season, Ponce led the Pac-12 in number of shots taken for seven weeks straight.
The newcomers who reported for 2013 fall camp are freshmen Paige Crouch (Roseville, Calif.), Jaden DeGracie (Gilbert, Ariz.), Karina Gabino (Tucson, Ariz.), Devyn Hunley (Tucson, Ariz.), Justene Kesterson (Tucson, Ariz.), Alexa Mamatas (Newport Beach, Calif.), Laura Pimienta (Tucson, Ariz.), Priscilla Pimienta (Tucson, Ariz.), Lexe Selman (Draper, Utah), Haley Silverberg (Katy, Texas), Hannah Stevens (Ahwatukee, Ariz.), and Audrey Walke (Livermore, Calif.). Arizona also welcomes transfer Alexandra Doller from Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Doller won a national championship while playing at Paradise Valley.
Below are Amato’s comments after the first full week of practice.
What’s your take after the first week of practice?
“The girls have come out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. We’re trying to imprint new things with them that they haven’t been doing in the past. It’s like anything during the season, there are some ups and preseason is the same thing in terms of instilling those things and improving on them. I can’t fault the girls for their effort or their energy; we are developing and getting better.”
What improvements have you seen from day one to now?
“Their foundation is working hard and energy but overall we have had a set of organization that has drastically improved in terms of our shape on the field. Defensively, our pressure has been a lot better. The girls are looking to get forward and press the ball to create scoring opportunities. It needs to get better, it’s not perfect but it’s getting better.”
What coaching philosophy do you use this early in the season? How does your philosophy change as the season progresses, if at all?
“My philosophy is solid; it doesn’t change throughout the season in terms of what guides what I do. We want all the girls individually and as a team to develop. We want to put them in positions to be successful and enjoy being a student-athlete. Those are things that don’t change but we do have some things we don’t do at the beginning in terms of how were going to play on the field. We don’t instill every piece the first week; we do have things that will develop from segments of the season. Some things we will tweak but it’s pretty much about layering it each step of the way. In terms of my foundation and what guides us, that won’t change.”
What do you look for in your team at this stage of training? How do you keep your players motivated during a tough training schedule?
“My goal and my job is to make training fun, enjoyable, competitive and that’s how the team responds and stays motivated. If I’m not bringing energy and setting up and designing training sessions that are lively and good for them to compete and get better at, then it stays stagnant. The girls stay motivated by the way we design sessions and plus, they have self-motivation. The combination of those two really makes it so that training is focused on energy and enthusiasm.”
What do you hope to see from your players by the end of camp?
“By the end of camp, we hope that we have gotten better, that’s the biggest thing. At the beginning of preseason we start with a group of individuals and at the end we want to be a team. That’s the foundation we’re trying to build; a team that is working towards a collective goal. Ultimately at the end, we have to be committed towards a collective goal.”
What expectations do you have for the upcoming 2013 season?
“For the upcoming season, we’re going to try and win every single game we play. If we win, we’re going to build on the strengths and carry those on into the next games. If we don’t win, we’re going to look at why we didn’t win, what the mistakes were, how we can get better. We’re going to prepare better than we did the week before based on what those mistakes were and go in the next game looking to win. Other than that, the chips will fall where they may; I don’t exactly know how that will all play out. Our team will be very hard working and energetic and hopefully that leads to more wins than in the past.”
What change do you hope to bring to the Arizona soccer program?
“We want to be a winning program; we’re going to try to get this to where we win against the best teams. The only way we’re going to do that is to provide an elite environment and an elite experience. When you do that, you get elite performance and that is definitely our focus with this program as we move forward.”
Tickets for the 2013 season are available with season tickets at a rate of $50, including admission for all nine home games. Discounts on season tickets are available for any Arizona faculty/staff, active military, seniors (55+) and youth. Groups with 15 or more can purchase group tickets for $4 per ticket. For more information on ticket sales visit ArizonaWildcats.com or call 520-621-CATS.For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat women’s soccer, follow the team on Twitter @ArizonaWSoccer, at facebook.com/ArizonaWSoccer or visit ArizonaWildcats.com.