By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 15, 2004
The No. 24 Arizona soccer team takes its 2-0-conference start to the Bay Area this weekend to face No. 10 Stanford today and No.14 California on Sunday.
"Certainly Stanford's and Cal's programs are good this year, but they are programs with winning traditions," head coach Dan Tobias said. "It's a big challenge for us on the road."
In the 18 previous Pacific 10 Conference matchups with Cal (7-2-2 overall, 0-0-1, Pac-10) and Stanford (8-2-2 overall, 0-0-1), the Wildcats (11-2-0 overall, 2-0-0) have never won or tied, losing nine games to each team. This will be the first time, however, the Wildcats have come into the games ranked. It's also the first time they are coming in as tied for first place in the conference.
This weekend is the start of a three-game road swing for the Wildcats, who will play at ASU on Oct. 22, before coming home for their final home conference games Oct. 29 and 31. The Wildcats also have a three-game winning streak on the line this weekend.
Last weekend, the two Bay Area rivals faced each other and played to a 1-1 overtime tie. The Wildcats opened Pac-10 play by defeating Washington State 3-1 on Oct. 8, and defeated Washington 3-1, the No. 4 team in the country in last week's polls. UCLA and Southern California are both tied with the Wildcats for first-place in the Pac-10 with 2-0 records.
First is an unfamiliar place for the Wildcats in the Pac-10, and as a result their outlook going into the games changes, according to Tobias.
"The mindset becomes: We put ourselves in a good position; so let's be prepared this weekend and put ourselves in an even better position," he said.
It may be a low scoring weekend for both matchups, as Stanford goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and UA goalkeeper McCall Smith are second and third, respectively, in goals-against average in the conference. Smith has a .45 goals-against average, while Barnhart allows just .37 goals per game. Cal goalkeepers Anna Key and Ashley Sulprizio split time in the net. Key has yet to surrender a goal in five games this season, while Sulprizio has played in seven games with a goals-against average of .83, good for seventh in the conference.
The Wildcats will have a slightly different lineup this weekend because freshmen Kaity Heath and Amanda Urtuzuastegui will both sit out after suffering ankle injuries in the Washington game Sunday. Both are still listed as day-to-day, Tobias said, but are not expected to play this weekend. Heath has started in all 13 games this season, while Urtuzuastegui has started in 11. Both have scored one goal apiece.