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NCAA eyeing February start for college soccer—and Arizona is comfortable playing two seasons in one year

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

After postponing fall championships to the spring over coronavirus concerns, the NCAA is eyeing a February start to the 2020-21 college soccer season, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com.

On Sept. 16, the Division I Board of Directors is expected to vote to approve recommendations that would call for the regular season to begin on Feb. 3 and run through April 24, about the same length as a normal season.

The NCAA Tournament, which could be condensed from 64 teams to 48 teams, would then begin April 30 and run through as late as May 17.

Assuming the 2021-22 season starts in August like usual, that would only leave three or four months between seasons, but that quick turnaround doesn’t concern Arizona soccer coaches and players.

“We only play 20 regular-season games plus five spring games. That’s 25 games typically in 12 months. That’s not a lot of games,” head coach Tony Amato said in August. “So to add games on top of that in soccer does not feel like (too much). Now, you couldn’t add them all on top of each other, in terms of playing four in a row in four days. But as long as you have some recovery time in between each game, you could play a lot of games in a 12-month span.”

Star forward Jada Talley said she only needs a month or two to recover from a season.

“I don’t see that as a quick turnaround because personally I think the time we get for summer is more than enough,” she said.

Junior midfielder Iliana Hocking had mixed thoughts about playing two seasons in one year.

“I think it’d be interesting because it’d be like I’m playing my junior season then going right to my senior year, kinda not like I got to enjoy it,” she said. “But I also think it could be a positive in a sense. Like, you play a spring season, everyone’s on the same page, and you’re going into next season stronger and not really having to work on getting more fit and you’re not having to start from like the beginning. Yes, the freshmen coming in will have to start from the beginning, but most of the team is already caught up to speed, so I don’t think it’ll be as hard of the transition as it usually is from not practicing and only having two weeks of practice before [our first game]. So I think that would be nice.”