By Ian Parkman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
If there were awards for rebuilding programs, David Hunter and the UA women's club soccer team would likely be writing acceptance speeches.
Two years ago the club team won the national tournament by beating Brigham Young, but the next year a Division I women's soccer program was begun at Arizona, leaving the club team with two players from its national championship squad. But this weekend the Wildcats return to the national tournament after finishing second in the southwest regional in October.
"The year after we won the tournament, the university started the Division I team and everyone left to play for them," said Hunter, the club team's head coach. "We took on all new players and we really worked hard to get back up to the level we were at, before the D-I team. This team is all underclassmen, entirely freshmen and sophomores. They are very dedicated and have worked hard. We are good now but we should be awesome in two or three years."
At the national tournament this weekend at Phoenix's Cave Creek soccer complex, the Wildcats will be seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament. Arizona went 9-2 this year, with its only losses coming to Texas-El Paso, which is seeded second in the tournament.
"The team is ready for the tournament, and we are capable of at least a good showing for as young as we are," team co-captain Stacy Morris said.
The Wildcats are led by their fullbacks and the goalkeeping of Marie Schutte.
"Our defense is unstoppable," co-captain Jill Palcanis said. "The whole team has the potential to do well. But the question is, can we bring it all together and play like a team?"
Hunter was an assistant coach in 1993. In his first year as head coach he was left with a team that lost nine returning players to the Division I team. He took on all new players and, with the help of ex-player and team president Jodee Hinkin, rebuilt the program.
"We are really fortunate," Hunter said. "We have a couple of players on this team who could be playing Division I somewhere but instead decided to come here. I think it's amazing Ÿ two years after we had two players on the team we are back in the national spotlight."
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