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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Women’s soccer notebook: DeGracie-Bailey on verge of assist record, Wildcat injuries and freshman standouts

    Zi Yang Lai

    The women’s soccer team lines up before their game on Sept. 13, 2015. The Wildcats begin their season on the road at Pepperdine on Friday, Aug. 19.

    Should They Stay or Should They Go?

    The 20th-ranked Arizona women’s soccer team starts their regular season on the road this year, as the Wildcats take on Pepperdine in Malibu, California on Friday at 3 p.m.

    Two days later, the Wildcats will host Utah Valley in Tucson, giving them one home game and one road game in the same weekend — a rare occurrence.

    Arizona leaves for Malibu Wednesday, will spend Thursday preparing to play the Waves, then fly back to Tucson after Friday’s match.

    UA head coach Tony Amato detailed the rest of the schedule.

    “We can sleep-in Saturday, get together and recap how Friday went, and what our approach will be and then we still have almost all day Sunday to make sure the players are on the right mind frame going into a six o’clock kickoff [against Utah Valley],” he said.

    It’s a lot of travel for the first weekend of the season, but Amato mentioned that it’s not as bad as it looks, as the game against Pepperdine is on Friday afternoon and the game Sunday versus Utah Valley is in the evening at 6 p.m., giving the Wildcats plenty of time to prepare in between.

    READ: Arizona soccer seeks revenge vs. Pepperdine in season-opener

    Inconvenient Injuries

    Arizona’s season hasn’t started yet, but the injury bug has.

    Amato told the Daily Wildcat Tuesday morning that freshman defender Tia Painilainen and freshman forward Jillienne Aguilera both suffered ACL injuries and will be out for the season.

    Senior defender Laura Pimienta and senior forward Haley Silverberg are dealing with injuries of their own as well, though both are expected back relatively soon.

    Pimienta, who started 20 of 22 matches last season, missed Friday’s exhibition against Northern Arizona, but is “getting closer” to returning, according to Amato.

    “We’ve been super conservative with her because we need her to play in September and not just against NAU this past weekend,” Amato said of Pimienta. “She wanted to play and could’ve pushed through it, but we’re looking at the marathon and not the sprint.”

    Meanwhile Amato said Silverberg, who started in 18 games for Arizona in 2015, will be out for “a couple weeks.”

    When healthy, Pimienta is expected to anchor the UA’s backline, while Silverberg’s value is in her versatility. Silverberg has played defense, midfield and forward in her first three seasons at Arizona.

    Bennett Builds Confidence

    Friday’s exhibition against NAU was Amato’s first look at his team’s newcomers in real game action.

    After the team’s 1-0 win, he was quick to point out one particular freshman that stood out — Maddie Bennett.

    “Not that she surprised us — because she’s been good in training — but we wanted to see if that would translate to the game and it did,” Amato said. “She was turning the corner and causing problems. She was dangerous the moment she came on the field, and I like that a lot.”

    Amato thought Bennett was confident on the field and if it remains that way, she’ll be a “dangerous threat going forward.”

    “She’s quick and confident right now, and if we can maintain that confidence, I think she’ll be someone that will show up on other team’s scouting reports,” Amato said. “When we recruited her two years ago, we thought she would make an immediate impact … We felt like she had it in her and we’re able to see that early.”

    Bennett, who was admittedly nervous for her first home game at Mulcahy Stadium, said the near-sellout crowd was “really nerve-wracking” and felt that affected her play.

    Nerves aside, she was still happy with how she performed.

    “I thought I did good overall.” Bennett said. “I think [Amato] felt that I was getting behind the defense, getting crosses for our team and chances, and I definitely thought I could do that.”

    Bennett finished with three shots, two of which were on goal.

    Amato also came away impressed with freshmen defenders Samantha Falasco and Brynn Moga, who both started in the backline.

    READ: Wildcats defeat NAU 1-0 in exhibition, but are still a work in progress

    DeGracie-Bailey Was Born To Assist

    Senior midfielder Jaden DeGracie-Bailey is just one assist away from being the school’s all-time leader.

    DeGracie-Bailey has dished out 19 assists in three seasons in Tucson, putting her in a tie with Mallory Miller, who played at the UA from 2002-2005.

    “I pride myself in assisting,” DeGracie-Bailey said. “I get just as happy for an assist as a goal so to see the joy on another teammate’s face when they score a goal is awesome. And to make history, that’s always what you’re striving for when you play.”

    How has DeGracie-Bailey been so effective?

    “The flip-throw,” Amato said. “That thing is a weapon that she’s utilized. We try to be pretty strength-oriented and that’s a strength of hers and she’s gotten quite a few assists of off those.”

    DeGracie-Bailey credits her work ethic and a positive attitude.

    “You can’t control a lot of things in life, but you can control how hard you work,” DeGracie-Bailey said. “The one big quote my family’s always said is ‘you can always control how you think and how you feel’ and so your attitude — how you step up and do things — is way bigger than what the outcome is … If you can have a good attitude going and work hard, then good things will happen.”

    And it’s safe to say a lot of good things have happened during her career at Arizona.

    Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter

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