Cats tabbed for second straight postseason berth in College Cup
Surrounded by four televisions in the Lohse Room in McKale Center yesterday, members of the Arizona soccer team had anticipation nearly too much to bear. Nearly.
As the Wildcats watched the brackets of the 2005 NCAA College Cup appear on ESPN News, one after another filled without the inclusion of their name.
The room began to quiet. Then, suddenly, a collective shout rocked the room.
Just a year after becoming the first team in school history to make the postseason, Arizona accomplished the feat again. The Wildcats' season remains alive as they head to Salt Lake City to face Utah on Thursday.
"I was really nervous that we weren't going to make it in because of the two losses this weekend," sophomore defender Claire Bodiya said of the team's 0-2 weekend at UCLA and Southern California. "But I'm so happy we're going to Utah."
"It was a little nerve-racking - no, it was (very) nerve-racking," added senior midfielder-forward Mallory Miller, Arizona's leading goal scorer this season with 17. "But I'm glad we were in the fourth bracket to go instead of waiting until the end."
|2005 Arizona soccer results|
Aug. 20 Missouri 2-0 (W)
Aug. 26 at Pepperdine 1-3 (L)
Sept. 4 at Cal Poly 0-0 (T – 2 OT)
Sept. 8 at Princeton 2-1 (W)
Sept. 10 at Penn 4-0 (W)
Sept. 16 Utah 1-0 (W – OT)
Sept. 18 New Mexico 1-1 (T – 2 OT)
Sept. 23 at Portland 0-3 (L)
Sept. 25 UC-Santa Barbara 4-3 (W)
Oct. 1 BYU 1-2 (L)
Oct. 7 Oregon 4-2 (W)
Oct. 9 Oregon State 3-0 (W)
Oct. 14 at Washington 1-0 (W)
Oct. 16 at WA State 1-2 (L – 2 OT)
Oct. 21 California 0-0 (T – 2 OT)
Oct. 23 Stanford 2-1 (W)
Nov. 4 at UCLA 1-2 (L – 2 OT)
Nov. 6 at USC 0-1 (L)
After losing to Colgate in the first round of the College Cup in snowy Storrs, Conn., last year, the Wildcats will look across the field to see a more familiar opponent, having beaten the Utes 1-0 in overtime Sept. 16.
"It gives you a little bit of familiarity," said Arizona head coach Dan Tobias. "But the first thing I'm going to be telling these guys is that we're a different team than we were 12 games ago when we played Utah, and Utah's a different team."
"They've improved and we've improved, so we just need to take it like we've never played them," Miller said.
The experience of going to the tournament last year should provide an advantage for Arizona, Bodiya said.
"Because we didn't do so well last year, this year I think we kind of know what's coming to us," she said.
Also in the Wildcats' 16-team bracket are two other teams they might recognize in BYU and Portland, both of whom downed Arizona earlier in the year (2-1 and 3-0, respectively).
Arizona's overall record is the worst in its bracket, so playing in the tough Pacific 10 Conference may have been a key factor in getting the Wildcats back to postseason play.
The top five teams in the Pac-10 were selected, with UCLA getting one of four No. 1 seeds. California was named a No. 3 seed.
Stanford rounded out the five teams selected, heading to Santa Clara, Calif., to take on St. Louis.
The seedings for USC, Stanford and Arizona were not determined as of yesterday.
"You look at it, and they took the top five teams in the Pac-10, and it's tough to argue with that," Tobias said. "They're all good."
While heading to the College Cup is a clear accomplishment, many team members said merely getting there will not be enough.
"We're a program that's trying to establish itself (as) a regular participant in the NCAA Tournament, and now we want to keep moving up," Tobias said.
Bodiya best summed up the team's collective feeling.
"It's going to be difficult, but it's going to be fun, because we know this is it - we're done from here if we lose any games," she said. "So you have to give all you got."