Much has changed since the Arizona soccer team last took the field.
Many of the team’s top scorers graduated, some players transferred and the team has a new head coach. One constant that has remained the same is the stellar play of forward Jill Aguilera.
In the team’s first exhibition game of the year against San Diego State on Tuesday, August 10, Aguilera scored one of the two goals in the team’s 2-0 victory.
“Overall, I think we did really well,” Aguilera said. “We [watched] film today and it was clear that we are starting to implement a lot of things that the coaches have been teaching us.”
After narrowly missing a spot in the NCAA tournament last year, Aguilera knows the importance of winning every game and coming out strong to open the season. It is a brand-new year and with Aguilera now a redshirt senior who the team will look to as a leader, she stressed what matters is what the team does this year, not last year.
“We are all on the same page as a team,” Aguilera said. “We are not comparing [each other] or thinking about the past. We are thinking about the future and specifically the present. I have been really excited to see everything that we have been doing in training and how we have been successful from that.”
Another centerpiece returning for the team is goalkeeper Hope Hisey. Last year Hisey started all 15 matches and was only on the sidelines for 17 minutes all season. In the Pac-12 conference, Hisey finished fourth in saves, third in save percentage and had four shutouts. Even with all that experience, Hisey feels she saw more action in the friendly match against SDSU than all last year.
“I feel that I touched the ball more times in that game than I have in my entire career here,” Hisey said. “I am more involved in the possession style [game] that we are playing now.”
Arizona’s upcoming season will feature fans in the stands for the first time since 2019. Hisey and the team are anxious to play and show the fans what they have missed out on.
“We want to show the fans how far we have come,” Hisey said. “We are committed to the process, and we are going to continue to work and get wins.”
Fans will also get a look at new head coach Becca Moros. Moros was an All-American soccer player from Duke University from 2003-06, earning All ACC honors three times. After her college career Moros was drafted in the sixth round by the Washington Freedom. Moros played professionally for 10 years in three different professional soccer leagues before retiring in 2019. Moros went on to become an assistant coach for Gotham FC in 2020. Soon after Moros found herself at UA as the head coach.
Moros and the Wildcats won their first match of the season and with all her professional and coaching experience, Moros knows the team has a lot of work to do.
“We had 20-25 good minutes and 65-70 minutes of something else,” Moros said. “It is totally understandable that it is not a complete performance yet, but in the end the team took some positive strides. This group is ambitious, and they were happy to see what they saw but they are not satisfied, so I think we are on the same page.”
The Pac-12 coaches poll sees Arizona’s season going differently and they are predicting UA to finish No. 10 overall in the conference. When asked about this Moros responded as anyone would who is passionate about their team.
“I don’t give a [expletive,]” Moros said. “I have been listening to people sell others short for all the wrong reasons my whole life. A lot of people think that because I have no head coaching experience that I cannot coach, but that is not true either. I spent 14 years in the pros, and I have things that none of these coaches have.”
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