Once again, UA's Fraser starting from ground up

By Ryan Schneider

Arizona Daily Wildcat

To say Coach Lisa Fraser blends in with her surroundings on a soccer field is an understatement. Equipped with well-worn cleats, a faded, blue visor and a dark tan, Fraser is barely noticeable amidst the constant activity at Wildcat Field, where the Arizona women's soccer team practices.

"But she's always there, she's always watching everything that's going on," bristled assistant coach Natalie McDowell, appearing somewhat agitated that anyone would have the audacity to accuse Fraser of being an observer.

And that's the key to understanding Fraser and her impact on women's soccer, she is always there. In the world of collegiate soccer, Fraser has never been one to stand on the sideline. In fact, Fraser is responsible for creating three soccer programs at three different colleges her most recent endeavor has put Tucson on the Division I soccer map.

Despite difficulties ranging from a lack of campus awareness to teams comprised from a diluted talent pool, Fraser has managed a 74-69-15 record over the course of her 10-year coaching career. At Washington State, where she had coached for the past five years, Fraser led the Cougars to a 52-31-7 record and their first-ever national ranking last season.

Basically, Fraser has demonstrated a knack for transforming weak or non-existent soccer programs from conference farces into respected forces.

Fraser said she attributes her successes to being able to communicate a feeling of confidence and belief in each player's abilities.

"Having someone believe in you is an empowering thing," Fraser said.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that feeling of confidence will be seriously challenged tomorrow at 10 a.m., when Arizona scrimmages No. 4 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. The Cardinal boasts a preseason All-American in junior defender Jessica Fischer, as well as sophomore forward Rebecca Myers, who garnered honorable mention status.

For the majority of the Wildcats, Saturday's matchup with the Cardinal and Sunday's 1 p.m. contest at Sacramento State, which is also a first-year program, will serve as a baptism into Division I soccer.

"Stanford is going to show us what Division I soccer and playing soccer at this level is all about," Fraser said. "I know it will be a learning experience for these girls, but we'll be competitive, and that's a good way to start."

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