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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona soccer’s Ponce a leader for her team

Colin+Prenger+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+womens+soccer+vs+LMU+on+Sept.+16%2C+2012.
Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA womens soccer vs LMU on Sept. 16, 2012.

Junior forward and midfielder Jazmin Ponce did not know what to expect when she came to Arizona to play Division I soccer in 2010.

What she got was 47 career starts, the title of Wildcats’ leading scorer for 2011, a leadership role on a winning Wildcats team and the title of Student Athlete of the Month during the 2012 summer session.

“Jazmin is a very talented player,” head coach Lisa Oyen said. “We enjoy watching her play and she has a phenomenal attitude about the game. She has this passion and creativity that you don’t see in other players. She recognizes the impact she can have on the game and has really embraced the leadership role.”

As a freshman, Ponce played in 19 games and scored three goals on 49 shots, 20 of which were on goal. She was the second-highest scorer behind then–junior forward Renae Cuellar, who had six goals in the 2010 season.

In her sophomore year, the Wildcats struggled as a team, but Ponce still took her leadership role very seriously.

“I felt like I matured as a player,” Ponce said. “My confidence went up a lot, but it is nothing compared to how my junior year is now.”

Ponce led Arizona in 2011 with two goals. She took 40 shots, nine fewer than in the previous season, with only 16 being on goal.

Still, she made 40 percent of her shots on goal.

“She has worked on every aspect of her game,” Oyen said. “We have seen the mental and physical improvements of her game and it can be seen she has grown as a player.”

Just 10 games into this season, Ponce leads the team with six goals, tripling her total from last season. She is also three goals away from surpassing Arizona’s team total of eight goals from last season. Ponce has already taken 45 shots, just four less than her all-time high in 2010, which in turn increased her shot to goal percentage to 51 percent.

“The way Jazmin attacks is a great part of our team,” junior midfielder Susana Melendez said. “We connect most of the passes to goal and the goals through her. We try to find her feet as much as we can.”

Ponce’s risk taking has pushed Arizona into a winning season with a potential spot in the NCAA tournament.

This weekend could be record-breaking for Ponce as the Wildcats take on UCLA on Friday and USC on Sunday at home.

Plus, she will get to share this weekend with her number-one fan: her dad.

Ponce’s father got her started in soccer after she practically lived on the field while her four older brothers played.

“I’m really excited that he is coming,” Ponce said. “It makes this weekend even more special for me. I sent him a plane ticket as a surprise because he always wants to see the UCLA, USC games.”

Her teammates, the freshmen in particular, admire her leadership.

“After my first workout with the team I was shocked because it was pretty hard,” freshman forward Hannah Wong said. “Jazmin turned to me and said, ‘Don’t worry, it will get easier. We are here for you,’ and she was just really nice about it.”

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