By Steve Fanucchi
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The inagural season for the UA women's soccer team was a challenge. Last year's season had its ups and downs, yet the team still made the marks to build on this year. Excitement may be the one word to describe this year's team. Not only do they get to play on the new Wildcat Field, they have one full competitive year under their belts.
"The new field is a big commitment from the UA and that is really important to soccer, women's soccer, and the team," head coach Lisa Fraser said. "The players are excited and ready to get on it and we're a much better team."
Year one started from the ground up and this year the Wildcats get to actually work on game and attack situations throughout the fall.
"Playing last year gave a lot of the players so much competition and learning from our experiences gave us so much more to build on," redshirt senior Kelly Keve said.
The UA women's soccer team will open up the 1995 season this weekend in Fullerton, Calif. with two games in the Reebok Classic. The Wildcats will play the Cal-State Fullerton Titans Saturday and Loyola Marymount University Sunday, who they beat last year by the score of 2-1.
In their first year at the Division 1 level, and in the Pacific 10 Conference, the Arizona did not have much success, winning only three of their 14 games played.
Leading the way for the Wildcats and entering her second year as the women's head coach will be Fraser. She brings twelve previous years of head coaching experience to the Wildcats, but her insistence on excellence on the playing field carries over to the classroom as well. In Fraser's previous head coaching years her players maintained a 3.0 grade point average or better every year. Fraser's best year as head coach amazingly came in her first, at Kenyon College, where she compiled a 9-3-1 record, .731 percentage. Fraser was the head coach at Washington State before the move to UA. In Fraser's five seasons at WSU her teams were 52-31, a .617 percentage.
Backing up Fraser will be Jill McCartney and Natalie McDowell. Both of the assistant coaches are in their second year. McCartney mainly deals with recruiting and McDowell is the goalkeeper coach.
The Wildcats will return 15 letterwinners, nine of whom were starters in 1994. The group will be led by senior forward Jennifer Duran, the leading scorer for the WIldcats in 1994 with 7 goals. A huge boost will be returning redshirts Keve, Jennifer Rickard, and Christine Keeley. Keve and Rickard are both transfers from Washington State and had to sit out last year due to transfer regulations.
"She (Keve) is a real attacking player and can score at will. She is one of our most confident players," says Fraser.
Keeley, Duran, and Keve will be the captains for this year's squad. Rickard brings her inspiration to the team as she was voted Most Inspirational Player by last year's team. Rickard was also Sophomore Woman of the Year, the first UA student-athlete to ever win the award based on scholarship, leadership, and service.
"Everyone has worked so hard and everyone is saying okay, we're ready and we're starting to see things come together that maybe last year we didn't, taking it a step further," Keve said.
The Wildcats will have the help of two talented freshman in Nicki Jones and Jillian Bressler. Jones led her high school team to the state tittle three times and may start in the midfield. Bressler is a member of the under-20 national pool and has participated in the Olympic Development Program.
"She (Jones) will be a fun player to watch. She has a high work rate and a good attitude. She makes things happen on the field," Fraser said.
Midfielder/defender Ashley Lettis will return to the team where she played in all fourteen games last year, starting eight.
As the 1995 season begins the Wildcats will be without the services of 1994 12-game starter Kate Mattson, who was injured in a car accident over the summer. Mattson will be forced to redshirt due to rehabilitation.
"Last year consumed a lot of basic stuff due to not understanding the system, they came in this year knowing the system and they did a great job with their summer fitness program," Fraser said.
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