Jada Talley and Brooke Wilson were standing alongside each other, waiting to interview with a couple of reporters on the grass at Mulcahy Stadium, when Wilson glanced up at her teammate and smiled.
“I need a stool,” she said.
Wilson had pointed out the obvious: she is much shorter than the 5-foot-9 Talley. Six inches, at least, separate the Arizona forwards.
That isn’t the only clear distinction between them. Wilson has blonde and pink hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and a solidly-built frame. Talley is thin with a dark complexion and legs that seem to stretch for miles.
When it comes to music, Wilson jams out to Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor. Talley vibes to Chris Brown and Cardi B.
“That shows how similar we are,” Wilson said with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
And while Talley said she and Wilson are both “crazy” and among the loudest players on the team, they agreed that energy manifests in different ways.
“She just is more like unicorns, colors, sparkles,” Talley said. “And I’m lit. I always have so much energy. Brooke has energy too, but Brookie laughs at everything. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood. That’s where we’re kind of different. She’s an all-the-time energy ball. I have my moments.”
Despite their differences, Wilson and Talley have formed a close bond over the past two years, on and off the field.
Tuesday, they went to the movies to watch Hustlers. (Cardi B stars in that film, so you can guess who chose it.)
All the hours they’ve spent together on the pitch, as well as their burning desires to win and score goals, has unified them. So have the memorable moments they’ve shared this season.
Wilson and Talley lead the Wildcats with six and five goals, respectively. They are the first UA duo since 2016 to net five or more goals apiece in a season.
Talley’s speed and precise passing have been a nice complement to Wilson’s skill and savvy in and around the box. Talley leads the Wildcats in assists (5), with Wilson often being the beneficiary.
It turns out being so different is a plus.
“It’s interesting because I feel like we’re complete opposites,” Wilson said. “I feel like she’s a runner and when she’s going to goal, it’s always how can I beat the goalkeeper? And obviously that works for her. And for me I don’t think I’ve ever taken on the goalkeeper. I feel like [my goals] are always shots from outside or it is from a pass from her.”
In other words...
“What she does, I don’t. What I do, she doesn’t,” Talley said. “So splitting us together up top and letting me kind of stay up top by myself as our high player and letting Brooke come underneath, she touches the ball more, which we need if we’re going to score. I just think it gets both of us open more. It gets both of us more chances.”
Averaging a hair over two goals per game, the Wildcats boast the fourth-best offense in the Pac-12.
They are a tough team to game plan against because they can change formations on a dime. They are even harder to stop because they feature two dissimilar forwards.
“They can’t just say okay, we’re going to play a deep line so that way she can’t run in behind,” Wilson said. “Because then there’s so much space for me.”
Not far behind Wilson and Talley on Arizona’s scoring leaderboard is left-footed striker Jill Aguilera with four goals.
Wilson assured there is no race to the top.
“Something that we have been working on recently is combining with each other,” she said. “At the end of the day it’s a team sport.”
“Yeah,” Talley nodded. “I don’t care who puts it in the net. (Goalkeeper) Hope (Hisey) can score as long as we win.”
That selflessness will be needed for Arizona to finish the regular season strong and make the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats (8-4-1, 2-3-1) have a critical homestand against the Oregon schools this weekend. They recently dropped to 37th in RPI after a scoreless draw at Utah.
“When they’re moving the ball and combining, we’re really dangerous,” said coach Tony Amato. “When the ball is stagnant and we’re taking multiple touches underneath their back line, it slows things down and it doesn’t look as good.”
Talley is two goals shy of matching her career high, set last season. Wilson has already doubled her scoring total from 2018 and there are still at least five games to play.
Even though Talley is a junior and Wilson is a sophomore, this is their first full year playing together. Wilson missed most of her freshman season with a broken leg.
Which begs the question: how much better can this duo get as it continues to mesh?
A lot better, if you ask them.
“We can definitely get over seven (goals) each, eight each,” Talley said.
“Yeah, I agree with that,” Wilson said. “Easy.”
Arizona Soccer leading scorers Jada Talley and Brooke Wilson preview the upcoming homestand vs. the Oregon schools and why they make such a good connection. (Hint: they are very different)Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Wednesday, October 23, 2019