Arizona soccer looks to continue current streak
The 2013 season continues this Friday for Arizona soccer when the team takes on the UC Riverside Highlanders in the home opener before traveling to the Midwest to challenge the Ohio State Buckeyes this Sunday.
The Wildcats come into the two-game set with an undefeated record on the early season after winning their first two games of the year over Florida Atlantic and Florida International in Florida last weekend.
Arizona soccer hasn’t had this successful of a start since 2008 when the Wildcats also won their first two games before struggling down the stretch and finishing 9-11-0.
The usual suspects like senior forward Jazmin Ponce, who already has two goals to her name and junior goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman, who helped shut out FIU with two saves, are leading the team. Newcomers Alexandra Doller and Jaden DeGracie have contributed as well with Doller’s two goals and DeGracie’s assist on Ponce’s game winner.
Senior midfielder and one of the team’s captains, Shannon Heinzler, said she has seen the team progress and this weekend is another opportunity to get better as a unit.
Tyler Besh // The Daily Wildcat The University of Arizona soccer team prepares for the upcoming season on Monday.
“Overall from preseason to starting off this past week I think it’s been a good start having our two wins and just moving forward as a team,” said Heinzler. “Together, we’re getting better every day.”
UC Riverside is 1-1-0 to start the season, losing its opening game to UNLV before rebounding with a 2-1 victory at San Jose State on Sunday. Highlander’s freshmen midfielder/forward, Tatum Lockett, is off to a hot start to the season with two goals including a game winner in overtime vs. San Jose State.
The Wildcats have struggled in home openers, with their last victory to start a season at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium also coming in the 2008 season when they beat Cal Poly 1-0. Last year’s home opener ended with a 1-0 loss to BYU.
On Sunday, Arizona will face its biggest challenge of the new season in Columbus, Ohio to play #24 Ohio State. The Buckeyes have three wins to their credit this season with victories over Morehead State, Eastern Michigan and Pittsburgh, all three of which have come at home.
Arizona last played Ohio State in the 2010 season, losing 5-1 in Tucson. Arizona’s first year coach Tony Amato said he is pleased with how the season has started for his team and said that both UC Riverside and Ohio State will be approached like any other team on the schedule: as just another opportunity to keep moving forward.
“We’re just trying to focus on the next game,” said Amato. “If we just look at each game and say ‘OK, we’re going to try and win that game,’ that’s our goal.”