A season in review: Arizona soccer has shown improvements
After struggling to a single-win season in 2011, the Arizona women’s soccer team made significant improvements this year.
Roster and coaching changes, as well as determination to prove critics wrong, all played an integral part in the team’s 6-11-3 record.
MVP: Gabby Kaufman, Jazmin Ponce
Goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman transferred to the team from Texas Tech in the spring and showed she could fill in for the graduated Ashley Jett between the posts.
In her debut season with the Wildcats she started all 20 games, racking up a total of 108 saves, surpassing Jett’s total last season by 23. Kaufman led the Pac-12 in saves for the season with a .766 percent save percentage, putting her in the top 10 for the conference.
On the offensive end, Ponce led the team with eight goals. Not only did Ponce quadruple the number of goals she scored last season, she also tied the total number of goals the team scored last season collectively.
Ponce led the Pac-12 in number of shots taken for the season and shots per game with 85 and 4.25 respectively.
Senior midfielder Jessica Culver snuck three goals in the back of the net practically unnoticed. With such an intense midfield and forward lineup, which included Ponce, Olympian Ana-Maria Montoya and international players like Candice Osei-Agyemang and Hannah Wong, Culver’s efforts went unnoticed.
Not only did she start all 20 games but she was the second-highest scorer on the team after Ponce.
Best newcomer: Hannah Wong
Hands down the best newcomer is Kaufman, but since she is an MVP there is another player who deserves recognition. Freshman forward Hannah Wong came off the bench to play in 15 games.
Even though she did not score any goals, she recorded a team-high three assists.
Wong took 12 shots for the season, which is the fourth-highest number of shots taken by a player this season.
A last-second win against Utah in double overtime on Senior Day Oct. 28, was the perfect ending to the senior Wildcats’ careers.
Junior midfielder Shannon Heinzler made the win possible by connecting with the ball with two seconds left in the match.
However, the highlight of the season came when the Wildcats defeated then-ranked No. 15 Cal in an upset with a score of 2-1.
It was a triumph for both coaches and players alike because finally the team proved they can hang with the big dogs.
She said it
“We have obviously improved from seasons before,” senior defender Alex Smith said. “This was definitely a more dedicated group. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. There were a lot of highs, a few lows and I loved every second of it. People really underestimated our talent this year and we shocked them.”
Overall season grade: C