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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Top 10 Most Momentous Wildcat Sports Moments of the Year

    Football’s 52-14 win over No. 7 UCLA

    There have been few bright spots the last few years for the Arizona football team, a team routinely whooped around by conference foes. For one day, Nov. 7, the Wildcats looked more like Southern California. When an undefeated, No. 7-ranked Bruins squad came calling, nobody could have predicted the Wildcats would so thoroughly blow it out. Arizona dominated all three phases of the game, gaining 519 yards in scoring 52 points on offense, returning a fumble for a score and shutting down UCLA’s attack on defense and scoring a TD on a punt return with special teams. Not only did this add credence to head coach Mike Stoops’ recruiting pitch, but it gave Wildcats fans a glimpse of what this team could become.

    Year of tragedy, hope for women’s hoops

    Nothing went right for the women’s basketball team. The Wildcats endured the death of their emotional leader and best player, Shawntinice Polk, who died of a blood clot that passed from her leg into her lungs Sept. 26; a myriad injuries left them defenseless in the post; and a guard recruit, Marie McGee, was stabbed after the season ended. Still the team played with an emotional high on Senior Day, trailing just 43-40 at halftime to then-No. 11 Stanford, Feb. 18 on the day Polk’s jersey was the first to be retired in Arizona women’s basketball history. The team continued that momentum in the Pac-10 Tournament, beating No. 8 seed Oregon 64-57 March 3.

    Tumultuous year for Olson and co.

    The men’s basketball team, one that draws players from all over the map, was all over the map this year with its highs and lows. The loss of redshirting sophomore Jawann McClellan to academic ineligibility and then to a wrist injury, the transfer of sophomore guard Jesus Verdejo, the eight-game dismissal of senior guard Chris Rodgers and the legal troubles of senior guard Hassan Adams made for a challenging year for head coach Lute Olson. Still, the Wildcats had big wins, including snapping Washington’s then-NCAA-leading 32-game home winning streak in a New Year’s Eve double-overtime thriller. After getting a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats walloped No. 9 Wisconsin 92-73, before giving No. 1 seed Villanova hell in a tough second-round loss.

    Dominance in the pool

    The men took second and the women took third at the swim and dive NCAA Championships. Junior Whitney Myers and senior Simon Burnett were two of many record-setters and individual winners, as the duo combined to win the two Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year awards. Head coach Frank Busch won women’s swimming Coach of the Year honors.

    Tuitama takes it off

    Just another 3-8 football season for the Wildcats was anything but, when Stoops inserted freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama into the Wildcats’ lineup against then-No. 15 Oregon Oct. 22, nearly rallying the team from a 21-0 deficit. Though Arizona was 2-3 in games Tuitama played in, his promising future has Wildcat fans chomping at the bit for next season.

    Hollowell passes Finch as winningest all-time

    For a program that has seen the likes of Nancy Evans, Jennie Finch and Becky Lemke win games at a record pace, it’s no small accomplishment for senior ace Alicia Hollowell to be the all-time wins leader. She passed Evans on the all-time victory list with win No. 125 March 12 against then-No. 18 Baylor.

    Soccer’s ‘sweet’ season

    For the first time in school history, the Arizona soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16, behind the heroics of school record holder in literally everything, senior midfielder-forward Mallory Miller. Victories over Utah and Weber State preceded the loss to eventual national champion Portland. Miller also earned Pac-10 Player of the Year an award that was another first for the program.

    Volleyball close as can be to Final Four

    Led by its trio of seniors, Arizona just missed its first Final Four appearance since 2001, ending the year 25-6 and 14-4 in conference. Leading 15-14 in the deciding game of the Elite Eight match against Santa Clara, the No. 4 overall Wildcats lost 17-15, falling a swing away from the Final Four.

    Planting one on ASU in inaugural Challenge at Chase

    For one night in a season gone wrong, freshman designated hitter David Plante made things right. His grand slam in the eighth put Arizona ahead for good in a 12-8 win over then-No. 14 ASU April 2 in the inaugural Challenge at Chase Field. Earlier in the day, a walk-off homer concluded a loss at California.

    Melee at the Madhouse on Main Street

    After sweeping then-No. 6 Weber State at the Tucson Convention Center in December, the postgame handshaking turned into a brawl, as Wildcats from both teams splattered the ice with blood and broken hockey sticks, much to the delight of a raucous home crowd. Head coach Leo Golembiewski also picked up his career 550th win this season.

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