By Tressa Girodo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 31, 1997

Senior's last trip toughest of year

Today marks the beginning of the end.

It's the first day of the last road trip of the season.

For seniors like defender Melissa Kessler, it's the final plane ride to Los Angeles with a UA jersey packed in her bag.

Having never beaten UCLA in three prior seasons, Kessler knows it's now or never.

"I am really excited about these games," said Kessler, who leads one of the best defenses in the Pacific 10 Conference. "I've put in four years to this team and this year has been great."

Kessler is one of three remaining players from the inaugural team.

"I want to win. I want a winning season my last year," Kessler said. "If we could say we played with the number one and number two teams and beat them, that would say a lot about UA."

UCLA is 13-2 overall and 5-0 in the Pac-10. Tonight's game starts at 7. The Wildcats face Southern California (13-2-1, 4-1) Sunday at 1 p.m.

"Both USC and UCLA are scoring lots of goals and playing great defense this season," UA head coach Lisa Fraser said. "So these games are going to be a real fight for us."

In addition to having the best records in the Pac-10, USC and UCLA have the best players. UCLA's senior forward Traci Arkenberg leads the Pac-10 in scoring with 18 goals and seven assists. She is ranked seventh among the nation's scoring leaders.

"These will definitely be our toughest games of the year," Kessler said. "They are the number one and number two teams in the Pac 10, we will definitely be ready for it."

The Trojans lost for the first time in 13 games last weekend to UCLA, 3-1. Sophomore midfielder Kim Clark, who also doubles as a guard for their women's basketball team, is the Trojan's scoring leader with 10 goals and 14 assists. She is right behind Arkenberg in the conference standings.

"We step up to the occasion," said Kessler. "If we play as a team we can definitely beat them. On any given day, we can beat any given team."

Arizona has the tendency to play to the ability of its opponent. If upheld, this should be some of the Wildcat's best games.

"We just need to do the simple things to win," said Kessler. "We need to pass to feet, win the fifty-fifty balls, and communicate with one another.

"We need to not make it so complicated for ourselves and we need to mark up and give them a run for their money."

Arizona coaches expect the enthusiasm and tenacity to be in the Wildcats' advantage.

"It's sort of exciting because we have a tendency to get up for the tougher games," Fraser said. "We play better against better teams."

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