World Cup helps UA soccer players prep for next season

One of the latest recruits to the University of Arizona soccer program is using a little international competition to get her ready to compete for the Wildcats.

Ana Montoya, a First-Team All-State selection from Southridge High School in Oregon, is in Germany right now as a member of the Colombian team competing at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.  She will join the Wildcats in the fall as a forward/midfielder.

“This event gives Ana a great opportunity to prepare for the college game,” says her new Cats’ coach, Lisa Oyen.  “The speed of play and quality of opponent will be comparable to what she will experience in college and will give her the experience to make a seamless transition to playing at the collegiate level.”

Actually, the Wildcats will have a representation on two international teams at the Women’s World Cup, which began today and runs through Aug. 1, being played at four different stadiums spread throughout Germany.

Renae Cuellar, who will return to the Tucson campus in the fall for her junior year, will be playing for the national team of Mexico. The 5’7″ forward from La Puente, Calif., led the Wildcats in goals scored the past two seasons.  She was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team and last year was a Pac-10 Honorable Mention.

International competition is not new to the 20-year-old.   Cuellar had her international debut with the Mexican Women’s National Team back in December, when she was invited to join Mexico’s senior women’s team to compete in the Torneio Internacional Cicade de Sao Paulo de Futebol Feminino in Brazil.  She netted two goals and assisted another in her first start against Chile.

Montoya has also been on the global stage before.  She competed on the Colombian team at the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand in 2008.

“To be able to participate in World Cup events is a great honor,” adds Coach Oyen, who will be entering her first year in the fall as Arizona’s head coach, moving up from assistant coach in the spring.  “We are very proud to have both Renae and Ana representing Wilcat Soccer in this event.”

The USA team is the reigning champion at the World Cup, but will be taking on Ghana in its opener, a team which won all four games in the qualifying matches, scoring eight goals and giving up none.  That game will be played tomorrow.

There are 16 nations competing, divided into groups of four.  USA, Colombia, and Mexico have been placed in different groups, with USA and Mexico playing tomorrow.  Colombia played today to a 1-1 tie with France.

Regardless of the outcome at the World Cup, UofA comes out a winner.  Its soccer team fields a couple of players with international experience.

The Cats can use all the help they can get to rebound from a disappointing 4-15-1 season last year that included just one conference win.