'Golden Blondie' steps up after soccer injury

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona junior defensive midfielder Alexa Montgomery (20) during a scrimmage at practice on Tuesday at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium. Montgomery goes by her self-given nickname, ʺGolden Blondie,ʺ due to her curly blonde hair.

Growing up, most everyone heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Deep in a secluded forest, a fearless young girl defies three ferocious bears and sleeps in their beds after chowing down on their porridge. It is a heartwarming fairy tale told to young ones all around the world and sends the important message that unsupervised children should try to seek out wild animals and steal their food. Or something like that. 

This weekend, when Arizona soccer takes on some fierce bears of its own, it’ll have a sort of Goldilocks to depend on.

Alexa Montgomery, or as her friends, family and teammates call her, the “Golden Blondie,” hopes to lead the Wildcats when they face the defending national champions, the No. 1 UCLA Bruins, in Los Angeles on Friday.

“Yeah, I came up with that [nickname],” Montgomery said. “I dye it often though; it’s pink on the team’s website.”

It is not hard to see why Montgomery goes by Golden Blondie. With her curly waves of golden hair shining in the Tucson sun, Montgomery is easy to pick out on the field. It has been even easier as of late due to her recent insertion into the Wildcats’ starting lineup. After starting the season mostly as a substitute, the junior defender from Altadena, Calif., has had to step into the starting 11 for Arizona after senior Brie DeFelice was lost for the year when she tore her ACL last month.

For DeFelice, ending her Wildcat career so early is disappointing, but she is happy with her time at Arizona.

“Obviously, it’s rough,” DeFelice said. “It’s not how I saw my senior year ending, but at the same time, I had a great time here, and I feel like I took advantage of everything I was given before the injury happened. I’m happy with my career here, but it is definitely a bummer for it to end like this.”

Montgomery, who is usually positioned at one of the wing-back spots, feels for her teammate but knows she has a job to do, especially with how well the Wildcat defense has played this year.

“It was unfortunate that she got hurt, but you have to rise to the challenge,” Montgomery said. “We’ve been doing so well this year that I just try to follow in line with my teammates and just work hard like Brie did.”

Since Montgomery became a regular starter on Sept. 21, there has been little drop-off defensively for the Wildcats compared to when DeFelice was healthy. In the six games Arizona has played after Montgomery was put in, the team has produced three shutouts and has only allowed six goals while winning four of its games.

Soccer head coach Tony Amato has used a variety of different players throughout the season and Montgomery is a perfect example of the depth Arizona soccer has had this season.

“You always have to have the next ‘man’ up mentality,” Amato said. “Alexa is someone who is mentally and physically tough, and she is someone that has done a really nice job of stepping in and giving us really good minutes. You’ve got to have players that have that next ‘man’ up mentality to be successful.”   

This weekend’s game at No. 1 UCLA will likely be the Wildcats’ toughest matchup of the season, but considering she is from the Los Angeles area, taking on the Bruins holds even more special significance for Montgomery.

“I can’t wait to play them,” Montgomery said. “We have nothing to lose and that’s just our mentality. We almost beat them last year; it was only 2-1, so we’re hoping to actually win this year. It would be nice to beat the hometown team, and I know they get a lot of fans so it would be nice to upset them.”       

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Follow Brian Peel on Twitter.


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