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Arizona Wildcats soccer

Cats look for discipline, a win against Golden Bears

Plus: Sunderhaus's trial by fire and Wilma's sartorial choices

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The University of Arizona Wildcats soccer team is set to host the University of California Golden Bears on Friday night. The Wildcats are coming off a weekend that featured their first win. California did better last weekend, battling UCLA to a 0-0 draw and beating USC 2-0.

Although they had a win last week, they also had a loss Sunday to Oregon State. Players and coaches pointed to improvements and strong runs of play, particularly at the beginning and end of the match. However, the team still had trouble keeping this up for the full 90 minutes.

After the Oregon State game, Arizona goalkeeper Ashley Jett gave a list of things that she and the defenders would need to improve this week.

"Discipline. Keeping everything in front of us. Making sure we have control of the midfield," she said. "We need to know where our midfielders are and they need to track back as well."

The Cats will be hosting the 7 p.m. game at Mulcahy Stadium at the corner of 15th Street and Plummer.

So what were you doing at 15?

If the team needs a role model for performing in high pressure situations, they should look no further than their assistant coach, Danielle Sunderhaus.

At 15, Sunderhaus was already making it up the ladder of the Olympic Development Program. She was chosen for the U.S. national team's women's youth side, but before she played a match with them, she was called up to the full national team.

There was not much time for her to settle in. The first day of camp was called "mentality day," which involved fitness tests and small-sided games.

In her case, it also included one-on-ones with Tisha Venturini and Brandi Chastain, two of the best in the world at that time, and idols to young players like Sunderhaus.

"It was amazing, but they didn't take it easy on me. They wanted to show this fifteen year old what it was all about. In my first game, I was crushed something like six to nothing," Sunderhaus said.

Still, she wasn't deterred.

"I realized that if I don't show what I've got here, they aren't going to ask me back," she said.

She showed well: She traveled with the team to Sweden soon afterward and earned her first cap as a second half substitute.

Wilma suiting up

Arizona mascot Wilma Wildcat made an appearance at the game against Oregon State last week, and it brought to mind what I'll admit is a pet peeve: Wilbur Wildcat dresses as a football player at football games and a basketball player at basketball games. He's ostensibly a player on the team. I get it.

Wilma, on the other hand dresses like a cheerleader. I suppose it makes sense when she shows up for men's games, but why does she still dress that way for women's games?

On the scale of sexism in sports in our post-Title IX world, I realize it doesn't rate high. Still it bugs me a wee bit. It's not just me: This was somewhat of a cause célèbre among some women's basketball fans years ago.

I decided to use my exalted position as Tucson Sentinel's soccer correspondent to blow the lid open on this. I called Tori Palmer, head of the mascot and cheerleading program and asked her what's up.

As it turns out, Wilma does now have a basketball uniform that she will wear to women's basketball games. She soon will be debuting a softball uniform, as well.

Credit where credit is due: Tori Palmer and crew, keep up the good work. 

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