Wildcat Review: Arizona Wildcats Make Us Proud

Nov. 19, 2014

Arizona student-athletes had a momentous week with major feats of athleticism and national awards.

But did you know that kicker Casey Skowron's family came down from Phoenix for the football game against Washington, or that junior forward Brandon Ashley is recovering well from his injury?

Here's a review of some of the week's highlights and more information about your Arizona student-athletes.

Skowron's Redemption

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

In Arizona football's game against USC earlier in the season, all eyes were fixated on redshirt junior kicker Skowron as he missed what was then the biggest field goal of his career.

Fast-forward five weeks and it all comes down to Skowron again. This time, Arizona is attempting to cap off a comeback against Washington. The Wildcats are down by two points going into the final minutes of play, and ultimately Skowron kicks a field goal to bring the Wildcats ahead by one point as time expires.

On Monday, the league office announced that Skowron was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance against the Huskies, which included two field goals and his first career touchdown, scored on a fake field goal.    

Skowron's family came down from Phoenix, and one of his cousins from back east flew in to visit and was in attendance.

"Saturday was awesome for me. I was able to spend some quality family time, which was really nice," Skowron said.

After the game-winning field goal, he said, "My phone was blowing up. It was fantastic, but more importantly we got the win. Everyone on the team played hard for 60 minutes and we never gave up."

Skowron, who didn't originally begin as a football player, burst onto the scene this season and has provided the UA with a reliable kicker. He initially began as a member of Arizona’s club soccer team before helping out the women's soccer team as a practice player and eventually becoming the team's student manager. A few weeks into the soccer season, however, Skowron decided he wanted to give football a try. He tried out for the team and made it.

The Phoenix-area native has converted 17 of 24 field-goal attempts and is 41-for-41 on point-after-touchdown opportunities. Additionally, his 98 points scored this season leads all Pac-12 kickers. 

Women's Soccer Wins in NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

The Wildcats, participating in their first NCAA Tournament since 2005, defeated Oklahoma State, 1-0, to earn their third NCAA Tournament victory in the program's history.

Senior forward Alexandra Doller received a pass close to the goal from a teammate in the 78th minute and shot the ball past the Cowgirls' goalkeeper.

"The thing I'm happiest with is that Doller had some chances and wasn't able to finish them off," Amato said. "But she stuck with it. She wasn't discouraged, she kept putting herself in good positions and she stuck with it. It paid off for her, and that’s what it takes to be a striker at a high level. She's tough."

Doller, a junior-college transfer, joined the program last year and finished the season as the second-ranked goal scorer on the team in her first year as a Wildcat.

Arizona Volleyball Setter Earns Pac-12 Honors

Sophomore setter Penina Snuka was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after leading the 14th-ranked Wildcats to wins against then-No. 10 Oregon and Oregon State. Snuka, the niece of professional wrestler and actor Dwayne Johnson, provided Arizona with the defense necessary to secure its biggest win of the season against the Ducks.

Over the two games, Snuka totaled 51 digs and 80 assists.

"I can't say enough about Penina and her willingness to sacrifice her body," Rubio said. "The team is a reflection of her. She dictates the flow and the attitude of the team, so we are fortunate to have her leading us."

Snuka is the third Arizona student-athlete to receive the weekly award this year.

Trio From Men's Basketball Named in Wooden Preseason Top 50

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Junior forward Ashley, sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and freshman forward Stanley Johnson were chosen from the UA in the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced this week. The list denotes the 50 frontrunners in competition for the prestigious award, which will not be announced until April. 

Ashley, instrumental in the Wildcats' historic 21-0 start last season, brought tears to fans' eyes when he collapsed on his left foot in Berkeley last February – marking an end to his season and sidelining him for eight months. He said being forced to sit out has made him a hungrier player.

"Having to sit out that long made me realize that nothing in life is guaranteed," Ashley said at Arizona Basketball's Media Day last month. "I was that close to having my career over. For so many years, I've taken basketball for granted. It made me realize that I can’t take this for granted anymore. I’ve returned hungry, and I need to seize all of the opportunities that I have."

In the UA's first two nonconference wins this season, against Mount Saint Mary's and Cal State University-Northridge, Ashley sprang back to action and contributed heavily to Arizona's dominance, averaging 17 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting with 81.3 percent accuracy.

Last year, Hollis-Jefferson earned Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honors and put up 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He also led the team with an average of 1.1 blocks per game.

So far this year, the 6-foot-7 native of Chester, Pennsylavania, has impressed, coming in as a sixth man off the bench. He has averaged 14.5 points and six rebounds.  

Johnson is one of seven freshmen on the Wooden list and comes into Arizona's program highly touted and decorated, boasting three gold medals with USA Basketball. In the UA's opening weekend, he lived up to expectations, providing the Wildcats with an average of 12.5 points per game. Against CSUN on Sunday, the native of Fullerton, California, scored 17 points off 7-for-10 shooting while adding three rebounds and a block.

Notable Mentions

Junior backstroker Bonnie Brandon was a critical component in the Arizona women's swimming team's victorious effort against UCLA in Los Angeles. Brandon helped the Wildcats remain undefeated as the UA topped the Bruins 155-145. In addition to being part of a decisive 400-yard medley relay team, the nutritional sciences major also picked up first-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle.

Categories: