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Arizona finishes 2013 season vs. ASU on Thursday

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Wildcat soccer

Arizona finishes 2013 season vs. ASU on Thursday

Wildcat players, fans look forward to rivalry match

  • Arizona forward Jazmin Ponce speeds through midfield against Colorado on Sunday.
    Dan DeGracieArizona forward Jazmin Ponce speeds through midfield against Colorado on Sunday.

When fans think of the sports rivalry between the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, most think of football or basketball, or possibly baseball. First-year soccer coach Tony Amato says that the pressure to win against the little school up north is the same in other sports as well.

“From the first second I got here, I was hit with how important that rivalry is,” he said after Sunday’s match. “It’s something we really want. We want to make sure we’re the best team in the state and try to get a result in the first season I’m here.”

“We’re going to put everything we can into this game,” he said.

For players, it’s a big deal too. It is even for the players who didn’t grow up in Arizona.

“No mercy. Yeah, no mercy,” said California-born forward Jazmin Ponce. “This is a different game. Both teams are out to get each other. It’s a rivalry, so all the players are giving 120 percent.”

For forward Jaden DeGracie, the rivalry divides her family. She grew up just a few miles from ASU.

“I’m just excited to win. My brother goes there and I’ll get to one-up him around the house,” she said. “I’ve grown up being part of ASU, but I’ll laugh when we beat them.”

It’s a bit more fraught for Ali Doller, who didn’t just grow up in the Phoenix area, she actually played for ASU.

Doller scored five goals in seven matches for ASU in 2011, before an ACL tear ended her season. She transferred to Paradise Valley Community College, and helped power them to a national championship.

“I’m excited ‘cause I still have friends on the team,” she said of Thursday’s match.

The Wildcats take on the school once known as Tempe Normal on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium. ASU is currently sixth in the PAC-12 with a 4-4-2 conference record.

A point in the Territorial Cup

Joe Flaherty has been a feature of UA soccer games for years. One of the more boisterous fans, he can be heard telling the referees that they are “horrible” and encouraging front-line players by name when he sees a good play.

“It’s a Territorial Cup game. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We will win that game by one goal.”

Flaherty notes that a soccer win counts as a “point” in the Territorial Cup series. Although fans think of the Territorial Cup as exclusive to football, State Farm insurance sponsors a “Territorial Cup Series.” Fans often will hear standings announced at various UA matches, but most don’t realize that a win in soccer counts just as much as a win in football or basketball.

A point is given for a win in any sport where both schools field an intercollegiate team. Things become a bit more dicey for sports like swimming and cross-country where there is not head-to-head competition, so the point goes to whoever finishes higher in the standings.

Since most still have a way to go in the season, the only points given so far are in volleyball (1/2 a point for ASU for a win in the first game between the teams) and cross-country (a point for the ASU men, and a point for the ASU women). This means ASU currently leads the series 1 ½ to 1. 9 ½ points would win the series.

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