Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 -- If you've been sleeping on the University of Arizona Women's Soccer program we suggest that you wake up.
Head coach Tony Amato took over the program six years ago and since then he has become the winningest coach of all-time and he has guided the team to four NCAA Tournament appearances in five seasons and in all four appearances the team has advanced past the first round.
With a strong core of returning players and talented freshman, Arizona has its eyes set of another successful campaign.
The Arizona Soccer Association (ASA) had a chance to talk to Amato about the upcoming season.
ASA: On expectations for the upcoming season...
AMATO: "We're trying to be a program that wins against the best teams in the country and we have been growing, building, developing and getting better. That is our goal overall, to beat the best teams in the county and we're in the Pac 12 so we're going to play them. We'll know where we are at as we march through the year. Our vision is to develop elite qualities in the players and to help them overcome obstacles and think outside the box and present things differently in order to accomplish that goal of developing elite qualities in them. I wouldn't put a goal on how many wins we get or how far we go but we're trying to beat the best teams in the country and were trying to get better every day."
ASA: On the returning players....
AMATO: "Our team has balance in terms of how many seniors, juniors, and sophomores and new players we have, so we feel really good about that. We can put a team out there of returners that all have a lot of experience and so early in the season that's really important where you're not relying on new players who haven't played in a college game yet to absolutely win you games. We'll have new players play and contribute and help us but we're not relying on five freshmen to start and win us games from the beginning. We do have a new goalkeeper in the sense that Kendyll [Humphreys] didn't play in fall matches last year and Hope [Hisey] is a freshman and Lainey [Burdett] who graduated is a pro in the NWSL now. That is a spot where we're looking at having a new fresh face in but overall we feel good about having a group that is pretty balanced from freshman to seniors and a group that we can put out there that all has experience besides the goalkeeper spot to help us win games early."
ASA: On the growth of the program...
AMATO: "We feel really good about the growth and the six seasons that we have been here. We went to a sweet sixteen the years we have made the tournament we have always gone past the first round. We hosted some games for the first time and all that is great. We feel that we're in a good place but we're not a finished product. We're not where the ultimate goal is. We are a program that wants to be constantly improving, evolving, adapting and so we're happy with the success so far but we still have a lot of work to do and every year it totally different. We still have a lot of work to do before we're a program making the final four consistently making elite eights or making a run at a national championship or winning the Pac 12. We've had a lot of good players come through in the last six years a lot of hard work by our support staff, assistant coaches and strength coaches, but we still have a lot to do and we have to keep getting better in hopes that we keep constantly improving and getting better through the years here."