Soccer closes out strong

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

To put it bluntly, success is relative.

When measured in wins and losses, success can be rather blatant, but to a first-year sports program where wins are hard to come by, the terms of success can be quite nebulous.

Such was the case with the Arizona women's soccer team, a squad that just completed its first year as a Division I competitor. Though the team finished with a 3-11 record, coaches and players have been able to look past that, turning to thoughts of, well, what might have been.

One of the areas of inconsistency with the team was stamina. Throughout the season, Coach Lisa Fraser reminded the team constantly that this is a 90-minute game, not just a 45-minute one. And if the numbers say anything, they say she knew what she was talking about.

UA was either tied or behind by one goal at halftime in 11 of their 14 games. The three games where it led at halftime, it won. In fact, Arizona outscored its opponents in the first half, never trailing by more than one goal going into the intermission.

But the numbers tell the other half as well. The Wildcats were outscored by a whopping margin of 32-8 in the second half, and 2-0 in overtime. If this weekend is any indication, the second half is starting to look like the same game, instead of a totally different one.

Over the weekend, the Wildcats split their games, winning aginst Texas Tech but losing in a rematch against Nebraska. Despite the loss, Fraser saw many bright spots in the season finale.

"We played well against Texas Tech and we won that game," Fraser said. "I think we played really well against Nebraska before, if we were behind and the game wasn't changing we just didn't play well, and I think this weekend no matter what was happening we played well. In fact, in the second half we came out and played really well.

"I think we were able to play our game against a team that plays such a different style than we do and really gets physical. We were able to come out and really play our game which was really a challenge."

Highlighted during the past weekend was the play of forward Jenn Duran and midfielder Jen Ginsberg. The former, a junior transfer, scored seven goals on the year, including a hat trick against Texas Tech; the latter set up the Wildcats' only score Sunday on a difficult crossing pass, and has played solidly throughout the season. Both have seen marked improvement from the beginning of the season.

"I've seen more aggressiveness," Ginsberg said. "We've become more aggressive and more physical on the ball. We've become stronger and we're playing better as a team. It'll be a good year next year."

"It was a positive way to end," Duran said. "We played well the second half of our game yesterday. I think we're better than we were at the beginning of the season, but we're still not where we need to be yet."

With only two days since the end of the season, Fraser is already looking to spring training. But she expressed that it was a positive experience for everone involved, however, and the future looks bright for Arizona women's soccer.

"It was a real learning experience," Fraser said. "The team improved tremendously, the record was disappointing to me. I really think we should've done better, I really believe that. But I think it built a good base for next year since we have a fairly tough schedule for a first-year program. I think the schedule has shown us what it's going to be like. I think that's been good for us."

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