By Steve Fanucchi
Arizona Daily Wildcat
After starting the 1995 season 3-1 on the road, the Arizona women's soccer team seemed on its way to second-year success. The Wildcats went 3-11 last season, their first as a Division I soccer program.
But the fast start turned sour, as Arizona stumbled to a 3-10 finish and a 6-11 season. After completing their first season in the Pacific 10 Conference, the Wildcats ended with a record of 1-6, the lone win coming against Southern Cal.
"This year we did improve over last year, but it was a disappointment because we should have won some games that we did not," head coach Lisa Fraser said. "For a second year we played a tough schedule."
The most prolific Wildcat this season was senior forward Christine Keeley, a team captain and former Salpointe High School standout. She combined with freshman forward Nicki Jones to have career years.
"(Keeley) walked me through practice and she would tell me what to do if I was doing something wrong," Jones said.
Keeley finished the season leading the team in every offensive category: 61 shots on goal, 11 goals (including a team-high three game-winners), five assists and 27 total points. All are new team records.
"Christine offers the team a lot," Fraser said. "She plays at a high level ability to do things at this level, and she helps everyone around her.
"Jones would not have done well this year if it were not for Christine. Jones got the learning experience from this year."
Jones provided the extra spark for the Wildcats on the front line. She finished her freshman year second on the team with 30 shots on goal, eight goals and 19 points, and tied for third with senior Kelly Keve with three assists.
"We improved every game this year, but we did not play up to our potential in some games," Jones said. "I learned that we have a lot of room for improvement. We had a good attitude in every game, we just did not have the confidence yet."
Junior goalkeeper Jen Weibel had a down year compared to last season, her first as a Wildcat. Weibel suffered from breakdowns on defense and ended with a .449 save percentage, down from last year's .778 percentage. She finished with 30 consecutive starts.
Perhaps the most critical statistic is the lack of production from more than one player offensively. This year only Keeley and Jones scored more than two goals. Arizona had just five players in double figures in shots on goal and just seven players with goals.
An early-season injury to junior forward Shannon Taylor, who tore a ligament in her right knee in a 3-1 loss to UCLA on Sept. 16, forced the Wildcats to play numerous players in her position. More importantly, Arizona lost the six goals and the 31 shots she took last year, as well as the extra punch on the front line.
"We had already lost Kate (Mattson) in a car accident, and the loss of Shannon definitely hurt us," Fraser said. "She gave us that extra something and we missed that."
There were only seven Wildcats to start every game this year: Keeley, Jones, Keve, Jen Duran, Jillian Bressler, Jennifer Rickard and Weibel.
"We really had some ups and downs this year but I think that we can look back and say that we can build on this year," Rickard said. "Considering the circumstances, I thought we did pretty well. We had three more wins than last year and hopefully next year we can double that amount again."
The Wildcats did have the longest win streak in school history Ÿ three Ÿ with victories over Loyola Marymount, Nebraska and Creighton.
"The good thing that we got from this year is the fact that we can play with anyone on the field," Fraser said. "This team just needs to start believing that they can play."
Fraser ended her second year with the Wildcats with a career record at Arizona of 9-22 and an overall record of 61-53-7 in 12 seasons as a coach.
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