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Arizona soccer

Wildcat soccer’s Hocking to play for Batman’s team

Standout midfielder is 4th-round draft pick for Gotham FC

  • Iliana Hocking jokes around during a game.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comIliana Hocking jokes around during a game.

Iliana Hocking, a fifth-year senior midfielder for the Arizona Wildcats, was picked 44th in the National Women’s Soccer League draft on Thursday by New Jersey-based club Gotham FC.

Hocking started 17 of the team’s 18 matches in 2022. Although she only scored one goal for the team, her defensive play was crucial. Wildcat coach Becca Moros called her “stalwart” and “clever.”

Her teammates had a word for what she did too.

“The team calls her ‘The Bull’,” said Moros. “She's just comfortable with big tackles and big plays and puts her body on the line.”

Moros is familiar with Gotham FC. She served as an assistant coach for the team before her appointment as Arizona Wildcat head coach in 2021. After a shaky 2022 season, the club brought in Spanish coach Juan Carlos Amorós, who's taking over a squad that includes veteran big names Kristi Mewis, McCall Zerboni and Allie Long. Moros believes a player like Hocking will thrive with competition for time like that.

“She's got some great players ahead of her to learn from and a really good coach who's starting to build something all within his own structure,” she said. “Ileana loves to train and I think that's going to be one of the things that's going to set her apart. She will enjoy every day, regardless of what kind of opportunity she gets on game day right from the start.”

Also drafted on Thursday was Hocking’s twin sister Penelope. Penelope played at USC and was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars where she will play alongside UA alum Jill Aguilera.

Baron turns pro

Angela Baron, a freshman who played defender for the Cats last year, will be moving on.

“Words cannot begin to explain how grateful and proud I feel to have been a part of the Arizona soccer program. It was not an easy decision to make but I have decided to pursue and start my professional career,” she said in an Instagram post. “A big thank you to the coaching staff, my teammates, and friends who have supported me throughout this journey and made Tucson my home away from home. I wish the program nothing but the best and I can’t wait to see what @arizonasoccer accomplishes in the future.”

Moros had no comment on where Baron will be playing, but other sources close to the program have said that she will likely be playing professionally in Colombia. There is higher quality competition in the PAC-12 compared to the relatively new Colombian Liga Feminina, but she would have more games there and be closer to training for the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

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