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UA News
Weekend wins keep soccer seed growing

Photo
Jeff Lund
Staff Writer
By Jeff Lund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday September 4, 2002

GOAL!

Last fall, the UA women's soccer team was less than impressive. Especially when compared to the stellar volleyball, softball and men's basketball programs that headline the sports section at UA.

A solid freshmen class and another year of experience for the current players figured to give the team a better shot at a more successful season.

But who cared. Really.

Fortunately for Cathy Klein's team, it looks like the tide may be turning, and after one of the most impressive weekend performances in recent memory, UA has a team that is demanding attention.

The 2-0 handling of Drake and 1-0 win over Cal Poly over the weekend marked the first time since 1997 the team opened with two straight wins, and the first time the team had scored back to back shutouts to start the season ÷÷ ever.

Needless to say, Klein's troops have stirred a little something inside me.

Maybe ÷÷ hopefully ÷÷ I ╬m not the only one.

My soccer history is short.

I played in a summer soccer camp in Colorado my parents signed me up for.

I visited my cousin a few times in Anchorage, Alaska during high school where he played goalie for his high school team, and between trips around the woods on his four-wheelers, we would kick the ball around in his backyard.

He would tend the goal as I tried to boot the ball by him ÷÷ which never happened.

Then it would be my turn to be the keeper.

I think I touched the ball once. The rest of the time the ball sailed into the net.

Didn't really care much though. It wasn't my sport.

I became indifferent about the sport even when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1998. I watched the women win the world's game a few years back, and I thought it was pretty cool, but it didn't excite me any more than watching two of my friends play FIFA in Manzanita Mohave Residence Hall freshman year. Again, no real opinion either way.

Then came World Cup 2002.

After watching the men's win over Portugal in the first game, I was hooked. That's all it took. I don't know if it was the fact I watched it early in the morning with my cousin and his soccer buddies, or that I could come into work tired and feeling like I was hit by a bus and get away with it or what, but I couldn't wait for the next game.

Even after I checked the score and saw the result on ESPN's Web site , I would still check out the replay of the game.

It didn't necessarily matter who was playing. Soccer became my passion for the next few weeks.

There is something to say about watching guys play soccer in the streets in the middle of the night, and regular people wearing American flags and painting their faces before heading to a bar at 2 a.m. to cheer on the red, white and blue.

Whether you had been a fan for years, or just been converted, it was all good.

After the Cup was over, the high lasted for a few days, but then the frustration of having to wait four more years before the next one set in.

I wondered if I was just a fan for a couple weeks every four years, or if I was really into this soccer thing.

Only time would tell.

So as I came into the newsroom on Monday and heard how the Wildcats had swept through their own soccer tournament, my head was turned to say the least. The seed planted earlier this summer by Landon Donovan and Brian McBride started to grow again.

Maybe it has in you, too. Or maybe you remain indifferent about the game. Nothing wrong with that.

But if you are like me, and soccer has spawned a new sporting interest, heading down to Murphy Stadium for a game or two might supply the fix you are looking for.

You may be thinking, "it's just another boring girls sport."

Yes, it is a female sport, but the gap between men and women's soccer is not that different.

Seriously, a bicycle kick looks cool no matter who does it, and when a freshman goalie keeps all 24 shots in front of her like Amanda Martin did over the weekend for the Wildcats, that's something to talk about.

I don't want to talk the team up too much and make everyone expect this team to win every game, because chances are it won't ¸ changes just don't happen overnight.

UA had a good weekend, and it deserves a little press after its impressive start to the season, so the least I could do was tell them I noticed, and to thank them for keeping that soccer seed growing.

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