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Arizona Wildcats soccer

Wildcats continue spring season against UTEP Miners

The spring season continues for the Arizona women’s soccer team when they take on the UTEP Miners Saturday at 4 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium.

Spring matches are too far away from the season to be useful for building match fitness, and without next fall’s freshmen, they aren’t a good way to evaluate new players. Coach Tony Amato and his staff use them to find out what formations and tactics will work with what will be his core group of players next year.

The team has already played Grand Canyon (1 - 0 on March 4), and is set to play Northern Arizona, New Mexico and New Mexico State before the semester is up. None of these are considered soccer powerhouses and don’t play at the level of the PAC-12 opponents that Arizona will face next year. The Wildcats should, by all rights, make short work of them. So, what is the incentive for them to come to Tucson and play practice cones for the Cats?

It wasn’t too long ago that Amato coached one of those teams. Until 2012, he coached at Stephen F. Austin University. He says that there are plenty of reasons why a team from a “non-major” conference would want to face off with a PAC-12 team.

“It’s awesome. When we used to do that the players would get hyped to prove that they could play at that level and they are just as good as players,” he said. “We would needle them…’hey, did those guys recruit you?’ when we would play a school from the big five conferences we would remind them, no you weren’t and they would want to prove that they should have been and could play at that level.”

“Sometimes when you coach a team you approach it like the [spring] games don’t matter, you’re just developing,” he said. “When you are on the other side, you want to prove, you want to win. You want to fight that battle. You want to play those kind of teams.”

“You know they want to put on their website, ‘We beat a PAC-12 team.’ It’s something that we have to be able to respond to and find a way to win,” he added.

The Wildcats travel to Phoenix on April 15 to play Northern Arizona, then close out spring games at home with New Mexico on April 22 and New Mexico State on April 23.

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Ted Prezelski writes about all things soccer, fútbol and piłka nożna for TucsonSentinel.com and at the blog How Flair is Punished (mindingthe.net).


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Arizona Athletics

Arizona coach Tony Amato at practice