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Goal Rush: Wildcats begin Pac-10 play tonight against Oregon

Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior midfielder Jennifer Klein rushes the goalkeeper during Arizona's 2-1 loss to No. 10 BYU on Sunday at Murphey Stadium. Pacific 10 Conference season competition begins today at 7 p.m. when the Wildcats face Oregon at Murphey Stadium.
By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 7, 2005
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It may be in the same schedule, but once the Pacific 10 Conference soccer season begins, no team cares who beat whom in non-conference play.

"The mindset is that this is a completely different part of the season," said Arizona senior midfielder Jennifer Klein. "At the beginning, it's open to anybody. No team is really standing out above anyone else."

Pac-10 competition begins today for the Wildcat soccer team when it faces Oregon at 7 p.m. at Murphey Stadium.

Despite losing just two starters from last year's Pac-10 championship team, the Wildcats (5-3-2) were slated to finish fourth this year, matching their highest preseason pick, in a poll of conference coaches released before the regular season.

To prove the naysayers wrong, the Wildcats might focus on improving a defense that allowed 13 goals, eight in the second half, in 10 games, six against nationally ranked opponents.

Sophomore defender Claire Bodiya said that trend will likely end as the defense proceeds through its nine-game conference slate.

"We have a really young line, and we have a lot of stuff to learn," said Bodiya of a back four that starts two sophomores and two freshmen. "We've learned from every game. ... I think we're doing better. We're starting to work more as a unit than individually."

Game Info
Oregon (8-1-1) at No. 23 Arizona (5-3-2)
7 p.m. Murphey Stadium
Oregon State (7-3-0) at No. 23 Arizona
1 p.m. Murphey Stadium

Here's a quick team-by-team look at the upcoming Pac-10 season and when each opponent faces the Wildcats, including this weekend's opponents: Oregon today, followed by Oregon State tomorrow (teams listed in order of predicted conference finish).

No. 4 UCLA (at Los Angeles: Nov. 4) - The Bruins are always at or near the top of the conference standings. They were the co-champions with the Wildcats last year and the national runner-up to Notre Dame. The Bruins (10-1) have already reached double-digit wins in non-conference play, with their only loss coming to Penn State, a 1-0 double overtime loss on Sept. 9. Sophomore midfielder Danesha Adams poses the most dangerous offensive threat for the Bruins, with 10 goals in 11 games, tying Arizona senior midfielder-forward Mallory Miller for the most scores among conference players.

Southern California (at Los Angeles: Nov. 6) - If the Women of Troy (6-3-1) finish as expected, they would move up from an eighth place finish in 2004. Arizona head coach Dan Tobias has said he considers their 2005 recruiting class the best in the country. Freshman forward Amy Rodriguez leads the way for USC with four goals and five assists. USC will be tested early, facing archrival UCLA in Westwood on Friday.

No. 19 Stanford (Oct. 23) - Seven starters return for a Stanford (6-3-1) team that got to the second round of the NCAA College Cup in 2004. The Cardinal are coming off a huge, 1-0 upset of No. 7 Santa Clara on Sept. 30.

No. 13 California (Oct. 21) - The Golden Bears didn't lose a single player from their 2004 team, which finished tied for fourth in the Pac-10 last season. They played some ranked teams tough in their non-conference schedule but come up short in the end, losing 1-0 to No. 6 BYU and 2-1 to No. 7 Santa Clara. In 10 tries, the Wildcats have never defeated Cal.

ASU (Oct. 29) - The Sun Devils have the upper hand in this rivalry, boasting a 9-0-1 record against the Wildcats. ASU's non-conference schedule featured no one from the current national Top 25, and it went 5-4-2 in its non-conference slate.

Washington (Oct. 14) - Freefall is the word for the 2005 Huskies (0-8-3). Last season, the Huskies finished third in the Pac-10 and were ranked as high as No. 3 at one point. They lost seven starters from last year's squad, including their top scorer. The Huskies have scored just seven goals in 11 games, while their opponents have put in 24.

Washington State (Oct. 16) - Arizona head coach Dan Tobias' former team stays put in the eighth conference spot, where it finished last season. The Cougars (7-3-1) have one of the better non-conference records in the Pac-10 and open up conference play with Cal and Stanford in California this weekend.

Oregon State - The Beavers (7-3-0) come to Tucson on Sunday as part of what may be their toughest road swing this season. OSU gets blessed with a favorable conference schedule, getting UCLA, USC, Stanford, Cal and rival Oregon in Corvallis. Jodie Taylor leads the Beavers with seven goals and five assists. They beat the Wildcats 2-1 last season in Corvallis, Ore., and the Wildcats say they expect the Beavers and Ducks to be physical. "Dan has said both of these two teams are just big fighters," Klein said. "They make up for everything with being physical and being fast. We can't have mistakes and have to be ready for physical games."

Oregon - The Ducks (8-1-1) keep hold of last place after finishing there in 2004. They return eight starters and are currently riding a school-record six-game winning streak. Oregon goes into Pac-10 play with eight wins, second only to UCLA in the conference, but did not face many notable opponents in their non-conference schedule.

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