Weibel shines in first UA win

By Ryan Schneider

Arizona Daily Wildcat

One of the pleasant surprises that occured during the Arizona women's soccer team's 2-0 shutout of Montana on Sunday was the play of sophomore goalkeeper Jen Weibel. Despite not playing in a game since last November and even though she hadn't practiced until late last week, Weibel started in goal and led the Wildcats (1-2) to their first-ever win.

As if that were not enough, Weibel is still recuperating from a nagging knee injury.

No big deal, Weibel said.

"Basically, my job is to not allow the other team to score," said Weibel, who stopped eight Montana shots. "The other team didn't score. It's that simple. My defense made it easy for me."

Weibel said shot blocking was not the toughest part of her day, anyway.

"Staying mentally focused was tough because I hadn't been playing like that for nine months," she said. "It's tough to be focused on one thing like that after not playing for so long."

A final decision on who will tend the net for next Tuesday's game against San Diego State has not been made yet, UA coach Lisa Fraser said. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at Pima Community College.

"I'm still deciding," Fraser said. "Jen had an exceptional game on Sunday and right now, she has a little more of an advantage because she had such a good game. Not that things can't change, though."

Speaking of changes, Weibel had to alter her lifestyle in order to play soccer in Tucson. Weibel played her first year of soccer at Virginia Tech, but because of a conflict with her coach, she was granted a release from her scholarship. The release permitted Weibel to join another soccer program without having to sit out a transfer year. Weibel contacted Fraser, and the rest is history.

"I'm a Wisconsin girl, and let me tell you, you can't beat a warm winter," said Weibel, a Milwaukee native.

They are the noises that every athlete must dread hearing the snap, crackle and pop of a knee joint that usually signals an anterior cruciate injury as well as the end of a season ... or perhaps a career.

At Tuesday's practice, sophomore midfielder Jeanine Arico heard those noises when she planted her right knee in an attempt to block a cross pass.

"This is the worst experience of my entire life," Arico said.

Arico was informed of the extent of her ACL injury at Tuesday night's "Meet the Team" event at Arizona Stadium. She was informed then that her season was effectively over.

"I've worked so hard for this season and worked all summer," said Arico, a Tucson native and Canyon Del Oro High School graduate. "What a way for this to end."

Arico has played in three games this season, and it is unclear if she will be granted a medical redshirt because of the injury, Fraser said.

"Jeanine was my first sub off the bench for halfbacks," she said. "This hurts because we'll have to find someone else and we'll probably have to train them."

It was a homecoming of sorts for midfielder Michelle Wickes last weekend at the Lady Griz Inaugural Soccer Showdown in Missoula, Mont. Wickes, a native of Omaha, Neb., revisited a number of old friends and former teammates when Arizona played Nebraska on Friday. Wickes scored the game's first goal and the second in school history, but used some privileged information to do it.

"I knew the goalie from back home and I knew that she never holds onto the ball," said Wickes, who scored after the Cornhusker goalie fumbled a UA shot attempt.

However, Wickes did not get to spend very much time with her Omaha buddies.

"I had a great time, but I didn't get to talk to my friends too much," Wickes said. "They were kind of like the enemies that weekend."

It took two games to get oriented, but UA senior forward Celine Verdier said she finally feels she has made a succesful transition from tennis to soccer.

Verdier was Arizona's top tennis player for the past two seasons after transferring from Mississippi State.

"I'm still learning everyday and during every game," Verdier said. "I feel like the first two games, I didn't know what to do and the last two games, it's been automatic."

The coaching staff has noticed a definite improvement as well, Fraser said.

Read Next Article