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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Walk-on makes her mark

    Sophomore Sally Thurner pushes the ball upfield during Sundays game against Montana at Murphey Stadium. The walk-on scored the game-winning goal in Arizonas 1-0 victory.
    Sophomore Sally Thurner pushes the ball upfield during Sunday’s game against Montana at Murphey Stadium. The walk-on scored the game-winning goal in Arizona’s 1-0 victory.

    “”Failure is not an option.””

    That quote bellowed by Ed Harris’s character in “”Apollo 13″” is what redshirt sophomore soccer player Sally Thurner calls her motto.

    Thurner is not your typical athlete. There were no schools trying to get her attention after high school or begging her to come play soccer for them.

    Thurner is a walk-on to the Arizona soccer team and is not on an athletic scholarship but an academic one. The geophysics major is playing because she always wanted to call herself a part of a Division I soccer team.

    “”I wasn’t treated any differently,”” she said, “”but it takes a different confidence level being a walk-on.””

    She is at Arizona because since the age of 8, the girl from the Midwest has wanted to call herself a Wildcat.

    Now she is a member of the No. 11 Arizona soccer team and is becoming a playmaker.

    Getting a late start to soccer in conventional terms, Thurner did not start playing soccer until she was 14. The Wisconsin native excelled in basketball and tennis as a prep at Brookfield Academy, where she also was valedictorian.

    “”I was always playing sports,”” she said. “”I think my first club team took me because I was aggressive.””

    She picked up the game quickly. As someone whose skills were not as refined as more experienced players, she could do well with her type of aggressive play, she said.

    Her aggressiveness is something that continues to get her noticed and makes coaches believe she has the talent to benefit the team. After scoring the winning goal in overtime of Arizona’s 1-0 win over Montana on Sunday, she proved that she could make a contribution.

    She said she will consider that moment her most memorable for quite some time.

    “”We want her out there now,”” said UA head coach Dan Tobias, who added that she embodies everything that a student athlete should be.

    In 2004, when Thurner first walked on, she played in 12 games but had to utilize her redshirt in the 2005 season, when she played in only one game due to a left-knee injury.

    “”It was frustrating not being able to play, but I watched a lot of soccer and learned a lot,”” she said.

    According to Tobias and sophomore forward Gianna DeSaverio, Thurner leaves everything out on the field, working hard all the time.

    “”She works so hard every day in practice,”” DeSaverio said. “”She makes her teammates better.””

    That kind of work ethic is what Thurner prides herself on.

    “”If I’m not the most skilled, I try to be the hardest worker,”” she said.

    Her hard work has paid off, with more playing time than she would have ever dreamed of when she first became a member of the team.

    “”She’s a worker to the highest degree,”” Tobias said. “”She has earned her playing time.””

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