When University of Arizona soccer finally returns tomorrow, the Wildcats will be looking to build on a positive 2019 campaign that ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with an overtime loss to Penn State. In that match, goalkeeper Hope Hisey made eight saves, a quality performance to cap off an excellent freshman season for her hometown team.
Hisey was a Pac-12 All-Freshman honoree in 2019 as she started 17 matches and finished with seven clean sheets. Reflecting on how that success in her first year helped her going into this season, the sophomore shot-stopper told BGN, “It did wonders for my confidence. I came into Arizona in the summer of 2019 a kid from Tucson trying to compete for the starting spot and transformed into a crucial member of the team, who was worthy of getting recognition for doing so in the best conference in the country.”
“I learned so much in my first year, and I believe it gave me a great foundation for the rest of my career. I’ve been in high pressure situations, whether it be narrow shutout victories, overtimes, or the NCAA tournament, and proving to myself that I can compete well in those situations at the highest stage was huge for my confidence. What probably did the most for my confidence, however, was my response to my mistakes. The mental part of the game has always been the hardest part for me, but to make some blunders as a freshman, who had to learn on the fly, and bounce back in critical moments, I taught myself that I am capable of doing great things to lead this team to high heights.”
While she may have lacked experience, Hisey didn’t lack any physical gifts in goal. “My number one trait in my athleticism,” she said when asked what is the top attribute that benefits her as a goalkeeper. “It helps me make great saves, but it also makes me great at dealing with crosses into the box. A constant critique of female goalkeepers is that they can’t deal with services into the box in the air great, but I think my background in basketball and volleyball coupled with my explosiveness has made dealing with those types of balls routine, and it helps my defense out a lot when their keeper can be aggressive and win balls in the air.”
How about that vertical from Hope Hisey! pic.twitter.com/y5a5QKuBMn
— Arizona Soccer (@ArizonaSoccer) September 28, 2019
She has also become a student of the game as she’s gotten older. When asked her favorite goalkeepers to watch growing up. she responded, “Growing up, I didn’t watch a lot of soccer, but I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve grown to love the sport more and compete at higher levels. Hope Solo is the obvious answer, because she’s the GOAT in the women’s game, but I honestly really enjoy watching the top male keepers in the world as well because of how freakishly athletic they are.”
“(Manuel) Neuer, (Marc-Andre) Ter Stegen, and (Jan) Oblak are all elite keepers that come to mind. Seeing them show up in the biggest moments time and time again demonstrate that when you couple excellence with consistency, you ascend to the most elite in the world.”
Hope, a Tucson native, is not the first member of her family to attend the nearby University of Arizona. Both of her parents are alums of the school. “My parents being alumni played a huge role in my decision to play for the University of Arizona,” she explained. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t pursue Arizona before they pursued me, because I was so young when they did (just out of my freshman year of high school), but once I met with the coaching staff and considered the legacy I could create for myself with my parents’ connection to the school, I felt extremely content with the decision to commit to Arizona before going on any other visits.”
“I feel immense pride to be able to play for my hometown. The community of Tucson raised me, and as a girl’s soccer player growing up, I understand how important it is to be a representative for the community and its love for soccer as a member of the Arizona Women’s Soccer Team. To be able to give back to the community in this way is one of my greatest joys.”
Growing up in the city she now proudly represents on the college level, Hope can definitely serve as a part-time tour guide of Tuscon for anyone traveling to see the Wildcats in action. “The best part about Tucson is the nature and the culture,” she said. “I definitely think people should appreciate the Hispanic culture and unique geography here in Tucson, whether that be through patronizing small, local businesses or taking a day trip to the various mountain ranges we have here and go for a hike or a drive.”
“Watching the sunsets among the cacti sounds cheesy, but I think it encapsulates the unique beauty of Tucson that’s often taken for granted. And afterwards, you can go grab a bite to eat at the various Mexican restaurants downtown or in South Tucson.”
When the action is on the opposite end of the pitch, you won’t find Hope gazing into an Arizona sunset because she will be locked in on her talented teammates. “I try to stay as focused on the game as possible when we’re in the attack, because you never know what could happen, but I do find myself cheering for my teammates who are attacking players to break people’s ankles or get off a great shot,” Hisey said. “Whenever I see Jada (Talley) face up and dribble towards goal, I say a quick prayer for the opposing team’s defenders because I just know they’re about to be embarrassed.”
Will there be any music that gets stuck in her head during one of those lulls in the upcoming season? She answered, “We play a lot of top hits and Tik Tok songs at practice through the field’s speakers, so honestly those will probably be stuck in my head. I hope some artists release good hype music in the coming weeks for the season because we’re in desperate need of some updated music at practice.”
The season gets underway for the Arizona tomorrow when they travel to face Grand Canyon University. Then, Hope Hisey and the Wildcats will return to Tucson to host six straight matches, beginning on Sunday vs. UTEP.