On the field, this weekend's road trip might not prove too challenging for the Arizona soccer team, as the Wildcats face struggling Pacific 10 Conference opponents Washington today at 7 p.m. and Washington State Sunday at noon.
But for Arizona head coach Dan Tobias, it's the most difficult trip personally.
"I can tell myself to try not to get too emotional about it. I spent five years of my life there. I met my wife there," said Tobias, who coached the Cougars between 1998-2002 before taking the head job at Arizona.
He'll be facing former colleagues and players, including assistant coach Lindsey Jorgensen, who played goalkeeper for Tobias from 1998-2001.
Coaching at WSU was Tobias's first head coaching job, as he went 44-45-6 in five seasons.
In two seasons at Arizona, he's almost halfway there in the win column with a 21-17-2 overall record.
The Wildcats have won both of their games against his former team, 3-1 last year and 2-1 in 2003.
"The feelings that we have are nothing but positive feelings all around for those people and those teams," Tobias said.
Before facing the Cougars (7-5-1, 0-2-0 Pac 10), the Wildcats (7-3-2, 2-0-0) must tonight get through Washington (0-10-3, 0-2-0), a 2004 quarterfinalist in the NCAA College Cup that was hit hard by graduation, particularly on offense.
The Huskies lost two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year Tina Frimpong and Nikki Gamble, who combined to score 26 of the team's 45 goals last season.
In 2005, the Huskies have been outscored 26-7.
"They graduated some very good players and graduated a lot of leaders and a lot of experience," Tobias said.
He said that despite losing so much talent and leadership, Washington still has head coach Lesle Gallimore, whom, in her 12th year at the helm of the Huskies, he considers to be one of the best coaches in the country.
"All the other teams I've spoken to said the games have been tight and been close, and they are right on the verge of a breakthrough," he said.
The Huskies almost had a breakthrough twice last weekend, when they lost to No. 19 Stanford and No. 11 California 1-0 in both games of the opening weekend of conference play.
The Wildcats got off to an opposite Pac-10 start with wins over Oregon and Oregon State last weekend at home.
They scored seven goals and got their first shutout in six games in a 3-0 win Sunday over the Beavers.
Senior forward Kelly Nelson said Arizona put together its most consistent efforts of the season.
"We're peaking at the right time and that's what matters," Nelson said. "We've been good in spurts. We've been good defensively maybe an entire game and good offensively an entire game, but I think this past weekend, it was cohesive, all together, for the whole 90 minutes."