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Arizona soccer team shut down after several players, staffers potentially test positive for COVID-19

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Iliana Hocking
Mike Christy/Arizona Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats soccer team has been shut down for two weeks after several players and staffers may have tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Thursday.

The UA reported 13 confirmed cases in the athletic department as well as six potential positives. Seven of the 19 potential positives are soccer players and three others are on the team’s medical staff. The other nine potential positives are spread over eight different teams.

Before this, the UA had only reported six positive cases since June 8, despite administering hundreds of tests.

The soccer team was tested Tuesday, and was testing once a week or every other week, one player said Tuesday in an unrelated interview.

“We do it before practice at the indoor center. It’s super easy. It’s not even 30 seconds,” junior midfielder Iliana Hocking said. “It‘s not like they even give us our results back. I think it takes 48 hours to get results, but they only text you if you’re positive. So kind of like on Thursday at the end of the day, we’re like cool, we’re negative, we didn’t get a text.”

Hocking and senior forward Jada Talley both said in separate interviews Tuesday that the players have been doing a good job following the COVID protocols, which call for them to wear a mask in public, wash their hands, avoid larger gatherings and, ideally, only socialize with their roommates.

One disadvantage the soccer team has is half its players are freshmen, who usually live in the dorms where it’s harder to isolate.

Sources said that at least one freshman has tested positive, but that confirmed case was when the team first reported in early August. It’s unclear how many, if any, of the new cases are freshmen.

“We’re all holding each other accountable,” Hocking said. “I know girls on our team have not been afraid to call people out on other sports or other roommates, which is good because if I’m living with someone and they’re going out partying, I’m gonna be like, ‘you’re not staying here tonight.’ So I think we all have a good understanding of that and I think we’re all on the same page. We don’t want to get it. No thank you.”

The Wildcats had been doing non-contact soccer drills three days a week and strength and conditioning workouts twice a week before being shut down.

Talley expressed some concern Tuesday about her team being in the dark when it came to receiving COVID updates.

“That kind of worries me because I’m the one at risk, I’m the one playing, I’m the one you have at all these training sessions, you know?” she said. “We haven’t heard anything COVID-wise since I’ve been here, which is going on what, week three? Four? It’s kind of iffy. It’s a really weird, sensitive time right now. Everyone’s minds are different. Some people don’t believe in it. Some people are deathly afraid. It’s just crazy right now.”

The soccer season usually starts in late August, but has been postponed until at least January due to the pandemic.

Talley, Arizona’s top scorer the past two seasons, admitted the delay has been mentally straining, but said “no one’s really acting up.”

“It’s more of to the point where now you’re home and it’s kind of like you’re going insane because you’re re-living the same day over and over and over again,” she said. “And that’s the issue. When there’s no games being played, and you’re confined to your house, you kind of have nothing to look forward to in a way.”