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Polk's memory fresh as soccer meets No. 12 BYU


Photo
Claire C. Lawrence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman forward London King runs past a slew of New Mexico defenders during a 1-1 tie at Murphey Stadium on Sept. 18. The No. 24 Wildcats will finish up their non-conference schedule at home tomorrow with a game against No. 12 BYU.
By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 30, 2005
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After a painful, difficult week for Arizona athletics, members of the No. 24 Wildcat soccer team gather themselves to take the field against No. 12 BYU tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Murphey Stadium, in their last game before Pacific 10 Conference play begins.

The Wildcats (5-2-2) will play just days after the death of Arizona women's basketball player Shawntinice Polk, who died Monday after a blood clot in her leg spread to her lungs.

Many of the women on the soccer team were close to Polk, especially junior midfielder Erin Bevacqua, who said her friend's death has brought the team closer together.

"We've gotten tighter and more willing to console each other," Bevacqua said. "But, in terms of individual(s), it's still denial phase."

Bevacqua said she thinks the tragedy of Polk's death will help the team's focus and play in tomorrow's game.

"I think we'll be stronger, too, mentally, (after) the passing," she said. "It just gives you something more to play for, other than yourself."

In their only game of the weekend, the Wildcats face a 9-0-1 Cougar team that earned its way into the national top 15 by defeating three ranked opponents - No. 22 Texas, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 9 California - over 12 days.

BYU's only blemish so far came surprisingly from Eastern Washington (1-6-2) on Saturday, the day after the Cougars' win over Cal. The Eagles battled the Cougars through two overtimes, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.

BYU's most dangerous offensive threat is senior midfielder-forward Jamie Rendich-Beck, who, entering last night's game against ASU, was leading the team in both goals and assists with five. Rendich-Beck also scored the game-winning goals in the Texas and Wisconsin matches.

Arizona freshman defender Brianna Caceres knows all about Rendich-Beck's abilities, as the two were teammates at Canyon High School in Canyon Country, Calif.

They played only one year together - Caceres was a freshman on the varsity team, and Rendich-Beck was three grades higher - but Caceres said she remembers well what makes her former running mate so dangerous to opposing defenses.

"She's pretty good on the ball and she's got a really nice shot," Caceres said. "So, we just have to contain that."

Caceres said that her father was hoping to fly to Tucson for the game just to see Rendich-Beck play.

"I swear, he'd adopt her over me," Caceres said jokingly.

The Wildcats scored four goals Sunday against UC-Santa Barbara, a good sign for an offense that had scored two goals in its last three games.

Arizona had a rough weekend last week, allowing three goals each to No. 3 Portland and the Gauchos.

Those six goals are just over half of the scores the Wildcats gave up all of last season (a program-low 11).

"I just think we need to communicate a lot better and stay tighter and (play) more defense as a team," Caceres said.



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