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A look at Arizona soccer’s 2020 recruiting class

The Wildcats signed eight players on National Signing Day

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

As Arizona soccer prepares to host TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, it fortified its future by inking eight players on National Signing Day.

Recruiting rankings are hard to come by for women’s soccer, but head coach Tony Amato said the class “fills a lot of needs.”

“I would say competitiveness, height, toughness, kind of that grit factor is all there, and they can also fill what we need to do soccer-wise,” he said. “Sometimes you fall into (the mindset) of well, they’re just an athlete or they’re just a technical soccer player. And I think they provide some balance. And whenever we’ve had players that can do that, they always help us, so we feel like this class does that.”

Arizona will graduate seven seniors at the end of the 2019 season, including three starters and a couple key reserves, so the hope is that some of the incoming recruits can make an immediate impact, though it is always difficult to project which ones will be ready to do so.

“Every year we try and make sure that we get a quality or two defender, a quality or two center mid, a quality or two forward attacking player, and then a couple versatile players that may play multiple positions,” Amato said. “So we definitely try and go volume, get eight, nine, ten players, knowing that it takes time for players to transition and develop and adjust.

“So we think we accomplished that in this class, making sure that we have some players that are gonna come in and step in with some of the players going out. Like, Sam (Falasco) in the back and Kelcey (Cavarra) in midfield, who’s going to fill that role? Is that a freshman or somebody developing who’s on the squad now?”

Six of the eight incoming freshmen hail from California, mostly from the southern part of the state. The other two come from Oregon and Nevada.

“Arizona has a really good brand and there are a lot of good players on the West Coast that know Arizona and want to come here and want to be a part of the Pac-12,” Amato said. “When you look at the Pac-12 itself, we just got nine teams in the tournament. They see the Pac-12 on TV, they know Pac-12 women’s soccer is the highest level in the country.”

Now that Arizona has become a mainstay in the tournament, recently earning its third straight bid for the first time in school history, the perception of the program among recruits is much different than it was in 2013 when Amato was hired after eight straight losing seasons.

“When we got here in 2013 and 2014, everybody was taking a leap of faith,” he said. “It just felt like they were going, OK, we will be good. And now we are good and they see that and they want to be a part of that and play in NCAA Tournament games and they’re trying to then say, OK, we are good. Can we be great? How can we take that next step to be great? Like be an elite program, have elite seasons, go to a Final Four.

“Now they know the staff knows what they’re doing, Arizona soccer is relevant, the brand is better and they’re looking to be a part of that.”

Here’s a look at the eight signees along with Amato’s take on them.

Quincy Bonds

  • Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Club team: Heat FC ECNL
  • Position: Forward

Amato’s analysis: “Quincy is super fast and could potentially even run track here. Her sister runs track here and one of her other sisters also ran track here. So that’ll tell you she’s really fast, really competitive, and she’ll definitely help us from a speed department stretch the game and help us score goals from an attacking standpoint.”

Megan Chelf

  • Hometown: Newport Beach, California
  • Club team: SoCal Blues ECNL
  • Position: Defender/midfielder

Amato’s analysis: “Megan is super versatile and could play multiple positions. She’s an All-American high school player as a forward, and on her club team she’s the best 1-v-1 defender that they have, and her club team wins national championships. So she’ll be a versatile player who’s super tough, super competitive and has a big heart and she’ll help us—and wherever we need a spot to be filled.”

Nicole Dallin

  • Hometown: Menifee, California
  • Club team: Arsenal FC ECNL
  • Position: Forward

Amato’s analysis: “Nikki is an attacking player who is super creative and crafty and can finish. Across the country, people are always saying they want players to be more creative, more crafty and be better finishers, and she checks those boxes.”

Alex Day

  • Hometown: Chino Hills, California
  • Club team: Legends FC DA
  • Position: Midfielder

Amato’s analysis: “Alex is a hard-working, pressing, tall midfielder. She comes from a really good club. Her coach is someone who used to coach in the Pac-12 as a head coach for 20 years, so he knows what this looks like. And she’s tall, will add height, is a good player, can use both feet. She’ll really be someone who can help us in the center of midfield.”

Ava Hetzel

  • Hometown: Cardiff by the Sea, California
  • Club team: LA Galaxy San Diego DA
  • Position: Defender

Amato’s analysis: “Ava is super tough, super athletic, super competitive. She’ll help us, I would think, in the back line somewhere.”

Sarah Rice

  • Hometown: Salem, Oregon
  • Club team: Capital FC Timbers O1
  • Position: Defender

Amato’s analysis: “Sarah was actually a late recruit that we were able to discover and really liked a lot. (We liked) her toughness and left-footed and her ability to move forward with the ball at her feet from being on the left side of the field. And she’s versatile. She could play left back, left wing, maybe even left forward.”

Tianna Sidtikun

  • Hometown: Escalon, California
  • Club team: San Jose Earthquakes DA
  • Position: Midfielder

Amato’s analysis: “Tianna is a center mid who is a great ball striker. Also really competitive and versatile in the sense that she plays soccer at a high level for one of the better clubs in the country, she ran cross country in the fall and she plays varsity basketball. So, super versatile and a good player and athletic.”

Jenna Studer

  • Hometown: Eastvale, California
  • Club team: Legends FC DA
  • Position: Defender

Amato’s analysis: “Jenna’s sister (Sydney) is actually at Oregon State and scored against us this year. A tall center back we would expect to step in. She also plays for [the same coach as Day], who was a defender, so he’s working with her extensively and feels like she’ll come in and help us right away. And so we’re looking forward to adding her to be an option in the back line.”