Arizona Daily Wildcat November 20, 1997
Club soccer peaks for national championships
Two of the UA's best teams you've probably never heard of play right here on campus. The Arizona men's and women's club soccer teams, who begin the National Club Championships today at the Cave Creek Sports Complex in Phoenix, both take No. 1 seeds and high expectations into the tournament.
"I'm expecting both teams to win the tournament," women's head coach David Hunter said. "I'll be disappointed if we don't."
This seems to be the general attitude among the women's squad, which has been practicing since August. Business isn't finished yet, as this weekend is where the hard work is supposed to pay off.
"The most important thing is team unity," senior Stacey Morris said. "We've worked hard to get here, and we're going to get the title we deserve."
The men are undefeated at 9-0-2. The women are 7-4-2, although their record is deceiving because many of those losses came against professional competition.
The men's team is led by Russ Dunham, Andreas Papoutsis, Shane Reinhardt, Chris Weyer, Ricky Haddock, Diego Morales, and goalkeepers David Crietz and Eric Pearson. The toughest competition in their bracket will come from Michigan, Baylor, Texas, and Weber State.
Long Beach State and UA's first-round opponent LSU (today at 1 p.m.) will pose the biggest threats for the women.
The enthusiasm on the club soccer teams is hard to overlook. Founded in 1987, the club soccer teams are funded entirely by the players and coaches. The teams pay for busses to games, including trips to California out of their own pockets, and supply their own equipment. While the varsity women's soccer program grabs the headlines, Hunter is confident his team could play with them or any other Division I program.
"I can't say enough about these girls," Hunter said. "They're tireless, they have a great attitude, and they're peaking."
On the team's first road trip to California, they thrashed Southern Cal 5-0.
"It was good bonding and it showed in our play," junior Kim Kirkwood said.
From then on, everything has seemed to fall in place. The team had a fairly easy time at last week's regional in Las Cruces, NM sweeping the field. The only thing missing is the championship.
"We've been working hard all season with this goal in mind. Now we just have to go out and do it," sophomore Heather Dunn said.