Arizona Daily Wildcat
Bartlett, Giallonardo, Monti guide Wildcats
In what was a rebuilding year for the UA soccer team, one loss - an 8-0 defeat to UCLA - has left a bitter taste in the program's collective mouth.
Despite logging only three wins , Arizona (3-15-2 overall) had been improving much of the season, competing with national ranked teams, before the debacle with UCLA, who lost to North Carolina 2-1 in the NCAA Championship.
"Our record does not indicate the strides that (the team) made, short of one game (UCLA)," head coach Cathy Klein said. "I think we are well on course to succeed at an elite level."
With only five seniors - defenders Ann Giallonardo, Niki Aguiar and Kate Nighswander-Will, goalie Inger Airheart and midfielder Keri Kennedy-Weber - on the roster, the Wildcats were a young and inexperienced team. Here is how the Arizona Daily Wildcat broke down the team position players.
One of the main weaknesses for Arizona was its inability to get the ball in the back of the net. The Wildcats were out-shot 399 to 191 during the season, scoring more than two goals in a game only once, a 3-2 overtime victory against New Mexico on Sept. 14.
Freshman Liz Bartlett, an honorable mention All-Pacific 10 Conference player, led UA in scoring, with five goals, and total points, with 11.
"Liz Bartlett was a true gift and a surprise," Klein said.
Junior Kristi Lorona contributed four goals, while freshman Sierra Cristiano chipped in three.
For the Wildcats to continue to improve next season, they will have to rely more heavily on Bartlett and Lorona while finding more offensive weapons to help with the team's attack.
When Arizona was playing its best soccer of the season, the midfield was playing a vital part in moving the ball from the defensive end of the field to the forwards.
Juniors Erin Nelson and Twila Kaufman - the most consistent members in the midfield - stood in their unit.
Nelson had three assists on the season, while Kaufman scored twice and had one assist.
Kennedy-Weber was the most productive member of the bench for the Wildcats , scoring three goals on the season, including a game-winner.
For a unit that faced consistent pressure for the majority of the season, UA's backfield performed admirably.
Giallonardo was a steady and experienced player all season long, but a lack of speed in the backline ultimate allowed Arizona to be outscored 55-20.
Giallonardo also had a career-high two assists on the season.
"I thought our backline of Cassidy (Guinn), Ann (and) Kate - for 19 games - was our team's heart and soul," Klein said. "They were brave, relentless and an inspiration to watch."
Guinn was named to the honorable mention All-Pac-10 team for her efforts in the backfield.
"I think, although our record didn't show it, we made a huge improvement," Aguiar said. "I see nothing but success in the future."
Junior Shannon Monti and Airheart faced more shots than any other goal keeping unit in the Pacific 10 Conference.
Arizona seemed to have found the right mix in the second half of the season, when Monti started games and Airheart finished them out.
Monti led the team, with 87 saves and a 2.59 goals-against average.
"Shannon is everything I want in one of my players," Klein said. "At no time did Shannon relinquish her job."
Airheart played in nine games for Arizona, earning one win and taking part in UA's only shutout of the season.
The coaching staff was directly responsible for preparing the team this season. While the team made significant strides , UA should have won more than three games.
"I would give myself an 'F'," Klein said. "I did not come here to lose."
The future should be more promising for Klein and her assistants - players say the team chemistry was extremely high at the end of the season. With the added progress by many of the younger members of the UA team, Klein may have begun to right an unsuccessful program.
Klein has been successful in her head coaching stints at Utica College (N.Y.), Earlham College (Ind.), Creighton and Iowa State and will eventually get the Wildcats on the winning track.
"I look at, at least, 11 games in which we could have won," Klein said. "Our best days are in front of us."
Chris Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.