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Soccer eyes road victory against struggling Princeton


Photo
Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior midfielder Nikki David celebrates with a teammate during action last season. David and the rest of the Wildcats will look to win on the road against Princeton, a 2004 Final Four team.
By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 8, 2005
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While many sports teams face just as many easy games as challenging ones early in their seasons, the Arizona women's soccer team has enjoyed no such give-and-take in 2005.

Just three games deep, the Wildcats have taken on Missouri, No. 15 Pepperdine and No. 21 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, all teams perennially in or near the national Top 25.

Now, Arizona (1-1-1) faces Princeton (0-2), a 2004 Final Four team, at 2 p.m. in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPNU in the Princeton Invitational.

"It will really show if we are made of it," said sophomore defender Kaity Heath about facing the Tigers, a team that went undefeated in the Ivy League last season and has won four of the last five Ivy League titles. "Last year we did so well. We need to continue on that winning streak."

The Tigers were ranked No. 21 going into the season, but fell out of the rankings this week after a bumpy start.

One of those losses was a 1-0 loss to No. 3 UCLA, the team that eliminated Princeton from last year's postseason. The other was a 3-0 loss to Miami. The Tigers were without sophomore midfielder Diana Matheson, a first-team All-America selection as a freshman.

GAME INFO

Arizona (1-1-1) at Princeton (0-2)
Today, 2 p.m., ESPNU
Princeton Invitational
Princeton, N.J.

Matheson missed the first two games of the season while playing with the Canadian national team but is now back in New Jersey.

The Tigers graduated 10 seniors but still return three starting defenders and Matheson, who was third on the team with seven goals and seven assists last season.

"She's very good," said Arizona head coach Dan Tobias of Matheson. "They have a real good freshman class coming in, and they still have a good core."

After opening the season with a 2-0 win, the Wildcats have scored one goal in their last two games - a 3-1 loss to Pepperdine and a 0-0 tie with Cal Poly.

Senior midfielder Nikki David said the offense had good chances to win in both matches, but that it simply needs to put the ball in the net.

She said a road victory against Princeton would bring more to the Wildcats than a point in the win column.

"If we come out on top and win, it's going to regain our confidence," said David, who has one assist this season. "It's all stuff we can control. We just need to capitalize and put the game away early."

The game pits two coaches who earned national coach of the year honors in 2004. Princeton head coach Julie Shackford was named national coach of the year by Soccer Buzz and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America after being the first coach to lead an Ivy League team to a Final Four in a 64-team NCAA tournament.

Tobias was given the same honor by Soccer America after taking Arizona to its first Pacific 10 Conference title and first NCAA Tournament.



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