By Amanda Branam
Josh Fields/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior midfielder Jennifer Klein hustles to keep control of the ball yesterday at Murphey Field. The Wildcats lost to in-state rival ASU, 2-1.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 31, 2005
It wasn't the ending they were hoping for.
In the final home game of the 2005 season, the Arizona soccer team and its five departing seniors lost 2-1 to ASU on Saturday night for the Wildcats' 11th straight defeat in the series.
Although Arizona (9-5-3, 4-2-1 Pacific 10 Conference) did not pull out the win, one of the seniors, midfielder Jennifer Klein, had a victory of her own with her first goal of the season.
Freshman forward London King, with her back to the goal, kicked the ball over her head, and Klein was in the right place at the right time to put in the goal from about six yards out and tie the score at one in the 54th minute.
"It was probably the greatest moment of my season," Klein said. "I just wish it led us to a win and not a loss."
Despite this senior class failing to beat ASU (9-6-3, 4-2-1) in four years, it's about the only feat the five athletes - Klein, Kelly Nelson, Mallory Miller, Althea Jones and Nikki David - have not been instrumental in accomplishing for the Arizona soccer program. (Kamaya Damwijk, now a first-year graduate student, joined the team last season, using her last year of eligibility in 2005.)
The Wildcats won six games in 2002, when the women came in as freshmen under then-head coach Cathy Klein, as Arizona was perennially at the bottom of the Pac-10.
They leave the program having established in 2004 the team record for wins in a season (15), its first Pac-10 title and its first trip to the postseason.
"(This senior class is) definitely one to go in the memory books and one to go in the record books," Klein said.
Miller, a midfielder-forward, will leave Arizona with nearly every single-season and career offensive record.
Every goal she scores from here on out will set a new record for goals in a season (17 entering the week), goals over a career (30), assists in a season (nine in 2004) and career assists (17). She has yet to come off the bench in her 76-game Wildcat career, nor has she missed a game because of injury.
"They've just given so much from day one," said Arizona head coach Dan Tobias, in his third year with the program. "They've done everything to get this program to where it is today. ... They've been a joy and pleasure to coach."
As for the memory books, David and Jones scored goals to win games over opponents the Wildcats had never beaten before last season.
Jones ran through almost the entire UCLA defense when she took the ball from about midfield and scored to defeat the perennial national power Bruins on Oct. 31, 2004.
Two weeks before, with just under three minutes left in the second overtime period against Stanford, David fired a shot that gave the Wildcats a 1-0 win.
Both games were crucial in Arizona forging a tie for the conference title with UCLA.
Nelson's impact on the program won't be seen as much in the record books, but Tobias and her teammates have gone on about the mark she leaves on Arizona soccer.
Nelson led the Pac-10 in scoring as a redshirt freshman, only to suffer a variety of lower-body injuries that severely limited her playing time in her next two seasons. She scored her first goal in two years in a 4-2 win over Oregon on Oct. 8.
Sophomore defender Kaity Heath said the team will miss not only the seniors' presence and talents, but also what they meant off the field.
"I was so homesick last year, and they helped this be a home," Heath said. "We call Kelly 'Mommy.' You can go to her with anything that you need.
"I'm going to miss them all so much."
At the team's media day before the regular season, many of the seniors expressed that they came to Arizona to change the program and leave it better than it was when they got to Tucson.
If Saturday's game was any indication - some of the Murphey Field at Lohse Stadium-record 1,208 in attendance watched through a fence because the stands were full - this class appears to have done just that.