Brooke Wilson hoping to return, add scoring punch to Arizona in NCAA Tournament

Brooke Wilson hoping to return, add scoring punch to Arizona in NCAA Tournament

The freshman has been out since September with a broken leg

Soccer is one of the most important things in Brooke Wilson’s life.

Check that, it is the most important thing in her life.

“I don’t do anything else ever,” she said, sort of joking but not really.

Thus, the last eight weeks have been something of a nightmare for her. The Arizona forward has been sidelined since September after fracturing her right leg on a freak play in practice.

Wilson was unable to walk after the injury, let alone put her foot on a ball, so the rehab process has reaffirmed her love for the game — and taught her something else about herself.

“I’m the most impatient person ever,” she said. “It feels like it’s been eight months, just because (the team) has been traveling and when they’re gone it feels like they’re gone forever.”

The injured Wilson has not been able to not accompany her team on road trips, so she tunes into their games — and many, many others — on the computer.

“I’ve watched more soccer since I’ve been out than I have ever watched in my entire life,” she said, later asking if I watched the Washington State-Stanford game.

Arizona’s loss to Oregon was particularly difficult for Wilson to take in. The Wildcats were held scoreless for 94 minutes against one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, and she knew she could have been the difference-maker.

Scoring is her specialty, after all.

In June, she tied for the Golden Boot at U.S. women’s national team camp, the award given to the event’s top scorer. The scrappy-but-skilled forward then kicked off her UA career by netting three goals in seven games before breaking her leg.

“A lot of girls on the team have told me one of our problems is we just need to finish our chances,” Wilson said, “and I love that (part of the game).”

Perhaps even a little too much.

“She really measures everything she does on whether she scores or not,” said UA coach Tony Amato.

Which is why some people within the program worried how a lengthy absence would affect Wilson, but the good news is her next goal might not be far off.

The freshman ran, shot and dribbled Wednesday for the first time since breaking her leg, and has been cleared for a non-contact practice Monday when Arizona begins prepping for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Wilson has been working diligently to get back into shape — lifting, rowing, wearing out an assault bike, etc. — but she would only have a limited role if she were to play next weekend.

Still, simply having her on the field would be big for the Wildcats, who beat ASU on Friday to finish the regular season with a 12-5-2 record.

“It would be something that if you get 15-minute spells out of her, she’s the kind of player that can always pop up with a goal,” Amato said. “If we can get her at that point, it would be a bonus to the team, but also for her. She’s missed most of her freshman year and I think she’ll be in a better place mentally if she was able to get back.”

Indeed. Wilson has enjoyed shagging balls in practice during her recovery — “and who likes to shag?” she said — so playing in a postseason game would be quite euphoric.

“Even if I play five minutes,” she said, “that would be the best day of my life.”

‘Cats ready for Selection Monday

Arizona will learn its postseason fate Monday around 1:30 p.m. PT when the selection show begins.

“Everyone’s looking forward to it,” said UA defender Morgan McGarry. “I’m sure everyone this weekend will be trying to figure out who’s going where and make their own brackets to guess. It’s always a fun time to see where we end up.”

The Wildcats probably won’t have to go very far. They are virtual locks to make the NCAA Tournament and expect to host the first round. Their RPI sits at 28th after beating ASU and the top 32 teams host.

Women’s soccer analyst Chris Henderson even thinks Arizona has a chance to earn a national seed — AKA a top-4 seed — albeit it is a “slim” one.

“We have good momentum going into the tournament now,” said UA midfielder Kelcey Cavarra after the ASU game.

If Arizona hosts, it will be just the third time in program history such has occurred. The Wildcats also hosted the first round last year, beating TCU in comeback fashion, before falling to Florida State in the Round of 32.

How far can the Wildcats go in the postseason this year? Well, Baylor is projected to be a No. 1 seed and Arizona beat them handily in Tucson.

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