By Tressa Girodo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 24, 1997

Wildcats look to straighten out offense against lackluster Oregon schools


Leigh-Anne Brown
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona junior forward Nikki Jones attacks the ball in the Oct. 4 game against LMU. This weekend the team takes on the Oregon universities at home.

As Arizona continues its record-breaking season into the heart of the Pacific 10 Conference season, its youth needs to come of age if the team wants a shot at the postseason.

This weekend's games against the Oregon schools is a perfect chance to get things rolling.

"Neither Oregon nor Oregon State has a great record, but both teams have had great results," head coach Lisa Fraser said. "We have to come out and play well this weekend. We're still very young, so we're very inconsistent."

The Ducks stand at 3-11-1 overall and 0-4 in the Pac-10. Head coach Bill Steffen brings a good deal of coaching experience from his days at North Carolina - one of the nation's premier programs.

"We're not really coming out quick," said Steffen, who was 5-11-2 in his first season at Oregon. "We tend to play better during the center parts of periods. That's a problem for us if we put ourselves in a hole in the early or late parts. We need focused play for a full 90 minutes."

Oregon State has struggled as well, winning two games this season to its 14 losses, but the Beavers lead the series 2-0. Last year's match resulted in a 4-0 shutout.

OSU could be on the up and up coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to then No. 18 Southern California (13-1-1, 4-0).

Arizona split its games last weekend against the Washington schools, but the defense is still winning games. Arizona has scored only one goal the entire weekend, prompting some frustration on the part of the forwards.

"It is really frustrating this season because we don't have any good shots on goal because we don't have any scoring chances," junior forward Nikki Jones said. "It is hard for our team to change during a game."

The problem of no offense stems from a lack of transition from the backfield to the offensive third of the field.

"Our entire transition is lost-we need to get more people up," Jones said. "We are numbers down on every offensive attack. In our last game against Washington State we had the most offense in a while. We took advantage of their mistakes and used the room on offense with defensive runs up the field."

Since its inception, Arizona (7-6-1, 1-2) has developed a solid backfield - it has recorded a record five shutouts this season allowing only 14 goals in 14 games.

Fraser is considered a defensive specialist and during her first three seasons had former Wildcat Christine Keeley, UA's all-time leading shooter, to shoulder the offensive load.

"It has been so frustrating. We are so defensive minded," Jones said. "Everyone thinks that once we've stopped them (the opposition) we can relax because our job is done."

If Arizona can get the offense moving - something both Oregon schools have been susceptible too - the forwards' confidence level should rise.

"We need to work more on moving forward as a team," Jones said. "We have practiced holding the ball until the team moves up. We (forwards) are not taking people on and are not going to the goal, but we will.''

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