The Daily Wildcat spoke about Zoom in a recent interview with Jill Aguillera, the senior striker for the Arizona women’s soccer team. Aguillera experienced a breakout year as a junior when she scored nine goals and 24 shots on goal which led the team. That momentum from last season has already carried over to 2021 as she scored three goals and one assist in the Wildcats’ first two games.

Daily wild cat:: What motivated you to play football at a young age?

Jill Aguilera:: Lots of kids in my school played at lunch because I grew up in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. Football was everything and I was just going to lunch and then my teachers told my mom to get involved in a team.

DW:: Who was your first trainer and did they influence your development?

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AND:: My first club coach is called Martha. Many of us grew up in the same area and some in different parts of the city. She saw me because I was fast and that was what she wanted to develop the most because I was already fast and that was a little different for girls my age. That definitely helped me get long balls because we did a lot. She helped me a lot working on my opposite foot. The left foot is very unique. We even trained every summer where I wasn’t allowed to shoot with my left foot and I trained a lot with my right. That way I was good with both of them and that would be important for the future. It is definitely something that she has helped me a lot with.

CONNECTED: Jill Aguilera shines again in Arizona women’s game win over UTEP

DW:: Why did you choose Arizona over other schools?

AND:: It was definitely when I came for my unofficial visit. It was just a good vibe and I liked how big the school was in sports. It was a pretty tight campus too. It’s a good community, you can host so many students, but everything you need is in the right place. It’s not very common. You can walk to the campus in 15 minutes. What Tony [Amato] and the other coaches are building a program capable of beating some of the best teams in the nation when we weren’t the best eight years ago. I think it definitely got me to positively influence change to make Arizona stand out.

DW:: Who was the professional soccer player you grew up idolized with?

AND:: I was especially a big fan of Abby Wambach. She has always been a great striker and has broken so many records. On the male European side, Marcelo is one of my favorite players [Vieira da Silva Junior]. He’s not a striker, he’s a left-back. But he scores a lot of goals and makes a lot of progress. He helps and does so much for Real [Madrid]. I feel like he’s just a really good player overall.

DW:: Maybe you took part of their game and implemented it into your skills?

AND:: It is better for Abby Wambach to get away from cruising because she is amazing at it. Something I was working on and wanted to improve because I was decent at running the ball: I definitely learned to put power behind it to actually score the goals and focus on the placement. This is definitely something that after seeing them so many times that maybe it would help me make myself stand out as a player.

DW:: At what point in your life did you realize you would take football seriously?

AND:: I was in middle school and played for a certain club in the Bay Area. I started playing guest games for another team. I played three leagues back then because I wanted to play as much as I could. Two of the leagues were with my regular team and one league was with a separate club team. This coach decided he wanted to create a whole new team of girls who specifically wanted to play football in college. My first year was when the team was formed and I joined. At that moment, we focused on certain things to make ourselves stand out as college players. Email colleges, the rules were a little more flexible at the time. I started talking to them and got involved in my sophomore year of high school.

DW:: I noticed that you were only claimed by the Chicago Red Stars last week. What if a professional team still plays for Arizona this season?

AND:: I don’t know if it’s any different. I try not to see it that way because I still play for Arizona. I will be here in spring and autumn. Chicago is an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful, but I will not treat myself or anyone any differently than if I had not been picked up. I’m going to try to score as many goals as I can, get as many assists, and make as many positive changes in the team as I normally would. Hoping to do that, Jada [Talley] and I’ve both talked about it and we’re both on the same page with it. We just want to help our team win and score goals. Who scores … doesn’t matter to us. We just want to keep winning games and work well as a team. It’s amazing, but I don’t want to lose sight of what my current goal is to play with my team, do well and score goals and assists.

CONNECTED: Jill Aguilera’s breathtaking free-kick brings Arizona women’s football to a win over GCU at the start of the season

DW:: What would you like to achieve with Arizona in your final year?

AND:: Help my team win games. Go ahead in the tournament we have before. We worked hard for it for a long time and we really deserved it. We have worked hard for so many years and [Amato] has helped us all develop. He sees things in his players very well and helps us to establish our role in the team well. I just want to be able to score goals and win games to help as much as possible. Whatever I have to do, whatever the coaches need me to do. Everything to win games and do well.

DW:: How unusual is it to play a season in an unprecedented time like the COVID-19 pandemic?

AND:: It’s definitely weird. I wouldn’t recommend it. We can play games now and I couldn’t be more excited. All of these new changes, rules and protocols are necessary and if that is what we need to play games, and that is what it takes. I’m really happy because my teammates are very responsible. They don’t do anything they shouldn’t. I think it’s really only possible to trust your teammates. I think it’s really important at this time to be able to do that, because it’s not just about you. It’s about the health of the team. Overall, I think we did a really good job in following the protocol and staying safe and healthy.

DW:: After completing your senior year as a member of the UA women’s soccer team, what will you appreciate most?

AND: I will definitely remember the night games the most. They are always very unforgettable. The crowd is always great at any game, but playing under the lights at night is always a fun experience. Out of the field, I will definitely remember Jim [Krumpos]. I guess [Krumpos] and Adam [Garmon] so much because they have helped us grow and develop each year; Make us stronger, faster, healthier and understand our bodies as players.

DW:: What do you think can be done to make women’s football better known at both college and professional levels?

AND: The World Cup [2019] definitely did a lot with it. We’re seeing more professional women’s soccer teams like Angel City being formed [FC] next year and Louisville this year. Angel City is mostly female-owned so I find this amazing. It is becoming more and more powerful that women are good at sports. Not just football in particular. Other sports like tennis are one of the most evenly paid sports between men and women. I think we’re just giving out our name. Show off all these other teams over and over again showing that women deserve to be where they are and can be paid more than they get paid. It will of course lead by example, which is now more than deserved, but we must keep doing it. But we’re catching up. We’re definitely catching up.

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