Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA five to six recruits away from turning program around
Though Arizona was swept by the Bay Area schools this past weekend, UA head coach Cathy Klein is pleased with the outcome.
"I'm proud of our effort. While the score may not indicate that we're progressing, we are progressing significantly," Klein said. "I feel we had the opportunities to win both games. That means we had a good weekend."
Despite getting shutout 2-0 in the two games against eighth-ranked California and 20th-ranked Stanford, Klein said the team did make improvements in the games.
"At this stage in our development, we've got to focus on the process rather than the outcome and Stanford and Cal are both nationally-ranked teams," Klein said. "A 2-0 result against them is acceptable, while we always want to win we have to recognize that small steps are significant improvements as well."
Freshman forward Liz Bartlett led the team in shots during the weekend with five.
Bartlett said she was surprised with the intensity of play that the Cardinal and Golden Bears showed.
"I had to find it within myself to be up to that level and say, 'just because I'm a freshman doesn't mean that I can't be there competitively with them,'" Bartlett said.
UA senior goalkeeper Inger Airheart made her debut in the net against Cal, after being sidelined for two weeks with a shoulder injury.
Airheart played the second half of Sunday's game and got one save.
"It's got full range of motion now, which is a great benefit," Airheart said of her shoulder. "It's a lot looser than it was and there's less pain - so it's perfect."
But while Airheart is back in the action, freshman midfielder Meaghan McNatt is out until at least the last weekend of the season with a sprained left ankle.
McNatt injured her ankle in the Oct. 15 game against Washington.
With only four games left in the season, Klein now knows exactly what she needs to do in the future to turn the program around.
"Recruiting is the key to this rebuilding process," Klein said. "Speed, athleticism and size is what we need to compete in the Pac-10."
The team has the makings of a very competitive program with the addition of four or five quality recruits, Klein said.
"I think I've got a great pool of returning players who understand what it takes to be an elite program," she added. "Liz Bartlett can get under any defense, that's an exciting thing. Shannon Monti can compete with any goalkeeper and everyone else understands their role in building this program."
Airheart is pleased with how the season has developed, despite going out her senior year with a losing season.
"I think the season's gone well," Airheart said. "I'm disappointed that I'm a senior and I can't watch the team and continue to grow with the team because I know it's going to be really good in the next couple of years."
Though the Wildcats are 0-5-0 in conference play, the team's morale is still very intense, Klein said.
"I'm very pleased with everyone on this team in terms of their chemistry, work ethic and their character in a less-than-perfect season this year," Klein said.
Airheart said she thought the team played well during the weekend, they just had unlucky breaks.
"We played Stanford to a great game and just got scored on in the end when we were trying to take some risks," Airheart said. "It was probably the best game we've played against Stanford in my four years. We were able to step up and pressure them, get good scoring opportunities and get physical with them."
Having faced six of the nine teams in the Pac-10, Klein said she is surprised about how similar Arizona's program is to the conference's ranked teams.
"I'm surprised at the difference between an elite program like Cal and Washington and us because I think there's very little difference between us except finishing, composure and speed," Klein said.