Young soccer squad looks toward NAU
Arizona hopes to rebound from a season-opening loss to the University of California, Irvine as it plays Northern Arizona University at 7 p.m. today in Flagstaff, Ariz. Then the team will head home for another 7 p.m. match against the University of San Diego on Sunday.
""We're eager and hungry to rebound after the disappointing loss to open the season,"" Arizona head coach Dan Tobias said. ""Flagstaff is a tough place to play but we want to show ourselves that we can bounce back with a better result.""
Tobias was playing six freshmen at one time during Arizona's 2-1 loss to UC Irvine Sunday.
More than half of Arizona's roster is filled with freshmen and sophomores, which makes it evident that the Wildcats will rely heavily on younger players this season. Though young teams generally have to go through learning phases, Tobias is confident that this group of young players is a step ahead of the curve because of the experiences they've encountered outside the Arizona program.
""This freshmen class is another very good class and they all have a high level of experience,"" Tobias said. ""This class has provided us with a lot of depth at every position.""
Over the summer, three players were invited to participate with the national teams of their respective countries.
Sophomore Renae Cueller played on the Under-20 Mexican national team, and freshmen defenders Alex Smith and Karli Hedlund, suited up for the U-20 Canadian national team.
""Playing on a national team is a great experience for all of them because of the competition they play against,"" Tobias said.
""Those kinds of experiences are extremely valuable because whatever your weaknesses are, you will generally get exposed at that level,"" he added. ""It gives you a more realistic idea of where you're at and you can bring some of that back to the college level.""
Though the younger players have had a great amount experience, Tobias understands that there will be some growing pains and inconsistencies early on.
As shown against UC Irvine on Sunday, the team's youth will be something to overcome, despite its spurts of potential.
""We just try to focus on each day,"" Tobias said. ""We want to take each game as an opportunity to get better.""