Last summer, the Arizona soccer team had a vacant coaching position and very little time to fill it.
The challenge of getting to know the team, building a staff and preparing for the season less than a month before the first game, can be a hard sell. Luckily for Arizona, Rebecca Moros is always up for a challenge.
During the hiring process, Moros, 36, spoke with her childhood and college teammate Lorraine Quinn about collegiate soccer. At the time, Moros was the assistant coach for the professional NY/NJ Gotham FC. She wanted a better understanding of the college game and Quinn was her go-to, as she had coached at the collegiate level.
Both women knew Moros could be successful coaching college soccer.
"She had said to me at the end of one of those conversations, 'so I'll call you back when I'm hired,'" Quinn said.
‘Carving down the mountain’
From playing soccer in freshly plowed parking lots during New York winters, stepping her cleats in various arenas with multiple teams or traveling overseas for the best and most difficult part of her career, Moros' experience with the game is unique.
She picked up the soccer ball around 7 years old. She excelled and continued to develop each year, but her passion for the game developed on its own because she did not grow up in a family-centered around sports.
“I grew up in a very academic family,” Moros said. “There were very few sports on in my house, of any kind. Sports was something you did because it was healthy and social and because you loved it. I loved playing. I loved being outside. I loved all of it.”
Moros grew up with older sister Sarah Moros and younger brother Nathan Moros. All three siblings played sports, but Becca was the breakout athlete.
“I remember we did our first ski trip when we were little and Rebecca being the best athlete in our family, out of all the siblings,” Nathan Moros said. “We were all falling down face first, and she is just carving down the mountain.”
While Becca Moros was most often playing soccer, Nathan Moros said she was dedicated to her studies and doing her best to excel in anything.
College and the pros
Both Becca’s academic and athletic skills led her to play at Duke University.
“The academic and athletic balance … is probably the thing that tipped me over,” Becca Moros said. "I got to campus, and it was beautiful and sunny and everybody seemed happy. I just had such a good feeling when I got there, I knew just walking around that it was the right place to be."
After graduating with a degree in psychology, she was drafted in 2009 by Washington Freedom in the sixth round of the Women's Professional Soccer draft.
The WPS folded in 2012 and Becca found a new challenge. She spent three months training in Tokyo, Japan, before deciding to call it her home.
Becca played for two years in the Japanese Nadeshiko League. She learned a new culture, language and a different way of playing.
“It was the best and the hardest thing I've ever done … I was isolated and lonely and illiterate,” Becca Moros said. “But I fell in love with the language, I studied a lot and I absolutely loved the soccer there. It's still to this day the best soccer I ever played, on the best team I ever played on.”
Her new challenge was off the field, thousands of miles away, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Mom is the center of the family. When mom's not doing well, that's a big deal,” Nathan Moros said. “It was definitely very difficult for her, and I would imagine it was one of those times where she has to ask herself, 'what right now is the most important thing?’ ”
Her mother recovered and Becca returned to the U.S. and played an additional six years in the National Women's Soccer League.
Introducing the new coach
Professional soccer was not the end for Becca Moros. All that experience led her here.
“I think I was made to do this. I think everything in my career was not set up for me to have the best playing career that I could have, but I do think it set me up to be the best coach that I can be,” Becca Moros said.
On June 16, 2021, Becca Moros was announced as the new head coach at the University of Arizona.
“We were all really excited,” said Arizona soccer redshirt senior Jill Aguilera. “Not only because she played in the NWSL and has a lot of experience, but also because she was a female coach.”
Becca Moros's role at Arizona made her the youngest soccer coach in the Pac-12. She added Quinn as the assistant coach and prepared for the fall.
“It’s really hard to come in and not know your players as people,” Becca Moros said. “You're building trust while you're in season, so our number one goal was to make sure that they knew that we cared about them.”
Seven weeks after she was hired, Becca Moros took the field with former coach Tony Amato’s squad. The team, comprised of 28 players — 19 underclassmen, including nine freshmen — finished with a 5-13 overall record and was 2-9 in the Pac-12.
Two upperclassmen shined during Becca’s first season: junior Hope Hisey led the conference in saves for over 10 weeks and her 102 saves was one of the best goalkeeper seasons in program history. Aguilera became the highest scorer in program history with 33 goals.
This spring, Becca Moros makes the UA team her own. She has recruited seven new players, including Angela Barron, a member of the Under-20 Colombian National Team.
“I’m excited for a spring season with them," Becca Moros said. “I’m excited to be able to train and work on things without that immense amount of pressure and I’m excited to know them.”
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