Monday, August 25, 2008

An Unrelated Soccer Note

Fresh on the heels of the Olympics, the NCAA soccer season is underway, and the hundreds of fans in the Murphy Field bleachers are holding their collective breath as the Arizona Wildcat women take to the pitch. It's not in anticipation of a top 10 finish--the Cats placed ninth in the preseason Pac-10 coaches' poll--but more a matter of peering cautiously through our fingers at this week's candidate to fill the keeper position, which in recent years has been dangerous on a level previously associated only with Spinal Tap drummers.

The 2005 keeper (McCall Smith) was forced into retirement by a degenerative knee condition. The 2006 starter (Chelsea McIntyre) blew her ACL and meniscus five minutes into the first 2007 practice, also cracking a tibia for good measure. Her replacement (Devon Wharf) then blew her ACL in the second half of the first game of that season, forcing coach Dan Tobias to turn to the third-string keeper (Danielle Nicolai), who lasted 12 games before suffering a season-ending concussion.

The Cats finished the season with a keeper recruited from the UA club team (Halley Brown).

Brown miraculously managed to stay healthy through the end of the 2007 fall season, handing the gloves back to Wharf for 2008 spring ball. A few games later, Wharf's ACL exploded again, sending her for a second round of reconstructive surgery in eight months.

At this point you might think Tobias would have to resort to a lottery system to assign some poor soul to the keeper spot, but McIntyre's giving it another go.
Really, what are the odds?

"In the lottery, we'd win millions," Wharf said.

So far, so good; last night Arizona beat Cal-St. Luis Obispo 1-0 with no carnage reported from the field. The season's young, but after the last three years the Cats' karmic ACL debt should be paid in advance for the next decade.

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