Arizona soccer: Several Wildcats set for homecoming in Tempe
The Arizona women’s soccer team hits the road to Tempe for two games in the Sun Devil Desert Classic this weekend, and it'll be a homecoming for several Wildcats.
Arizona has six players — Meredith Reinhardt, Brynn Moga, Chelle Mahoney, Hannah Stevens, Gabi Stoian and Jaden DeGracie-Bailey — that hail from the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.
“It’s great because they have friends and family and everything’s familiar to them,” said Arizona Head Coach Tony Amato. “They’re able to go back home. It’s not far [from Tucson], but to be able to play there and have an easy trip for the family is always great. And then some friends, who maybe stayed in town, it’s easy for them to come to a game, where maybe they wouldn’t be able to drive down.”
DeGracie-Bailey, a senior from Gilbert, Arizona who often frequented Sun Devil Soccer Stadium as a kid, will have dozens of friends and family members in attendance.
“I’m having about 50 people come and watch,” she said. “I’m going to have a huge fan section. You’re just in the area where you grew up, so a lot of people come out and watch you play.”
When DeGracie-Bailey received her team’s schedule before the season started, she quickly highlighted the road trip to Tempe.
“I sent [texts] to everybody to tell them ‘come, come,’” she said. “So it’s super fun and this is my last season, so it’s my last season to have people watch me play and watch everything that my team has done and has worked for, so I’m excited.”
It’s a similar story for Stoian, who graduated from Pinnacle High School in Scottsdale.
“We had a good weekend last year when we played in Tempe and I love having my family up there,” she said.
Meanwhile, Amato appreciates the short road trip for a different reason.
“It means we’re not on a flight, so it’s a win-win in that regard,” he said. “And hopefully we have some Phoenix people who went to the UA, who live there, come out and support us.”
Between friends and family along with alumni in the area, it’s possible the atmosphere in Tempe will resemble that of a home game for the Wildcats.
Their first game of the road trip is against Denver on Friday at 7 p.m. Then on Sunday, they’ll wrap it up against Columbia at 11 a.m.
“I love playing in front of friends and family and hopefully we can get a win,” Stoian said.
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