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SoCal in their hearts

Josh Fields/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman defender Brianna Caceres and the Wildcats will take on UCLA and USC this weekend in Los Angeles. Caceres is one of seven Arizona players who hail from Southern California.
By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 3, 2005
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Soccer players ready for In-N-Out, shopping in O.C. on L.A. road trip

Depending on where you’re driving from — and of course, that infamous Southern California traffic — Tucson is not terribly far from its neighbor state to the west.

But to the seven SoCal natives on the Arizona soccer team, Tucson might as well be on the other side of the world.

“It’s a lot different here. There’s a lot to miss (about California),” said sophomore midfielder-defender Nicole Scheid, of Mission Viejo.

All seven players are major contributors — all but two have at least 15 starts in the team’s 17 games this season – and will get the chance to spend time in their motherland this weekend when the Wildcats face UCLA tomorrow and Southern California on Sunday.

While they all hail from different cities in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, what the players said they miss about SoCal living seems to be pretty similar: family, friends, In-N-Out burgers and the ocean — and not necessarily in that order.

“My favorite thing when I step off the airplane is you can smell the ocean,” said senior midfielder Nikki David, a Manhattan Beach native. “I know I’m home when I smell that.”

While David and fellow senior Kelly Nelson (Lakewood) are making their last road trip of their college soccer careers to their Los Angeles-area homes, the trip west marks the first homecoming for freshmen Brianna Caceres (Canyon Country) and London King (Santa Monica).

Both said they look forward to having so many family members and friends being able to watch them from the stands.

Friends and family of both players will likely not be disappointed, as Caceres and King have seen time in all 17 games this season. Caceres has started on defense every game, and King, who normally comes off the bench to give the frontline some speed, has made two starts for the Wildcats.

“(I miss) the weather. The weather and my friends,” said Caceres, all smiles at the mention of the trip home. “Oh, and In-N-Out. Write that down. In-N-Out.”

Making the drive through Los Angeles County going southbound on Interstate 5, the next stops are the homes of junior midfielder Erin Bevacqua and Scheid. The location is now a pop culture icon: Orange County.

“We miss the O.C.!” Bevacqua exclaimed, speaking for herself and Scheid, who shook her head in agreement.

Aside from the Orange County shopping (Bevacqua suggests South Coast Plaza) and the In-N-Out, both said they miss having the ocean just minutes away.

Making the move from Laguna Beach, where Bevacqua said she could surf anytime away from school, to oceanless Arizona has made life a little difficult at times, she said.

“My longboard is just chillin’,” Bevacqua said, dejected.

South of Orange County is San Diego County, the hometown of first-year graduate student Kamaya Damwijk.

This will be the first homecoming for the Poway native, who joined the Wildcats only last season and is using her last year of eligibility while taking graduate-school courses.

Damwijk has known only success against the Los Angeles schools. When Arizona faced USC and UCLA at home last season, the Wildcats swept the two teams for the first time in school history. The 1-0 win over the Bruins marked the first time the Wildcats had ever beaten UCLA.

The trip may turn out much too short for these California girls, but it’s an important trip, and not just to get their fill of In-N-Out Double-Doubles and see their families.

Arizona sits in a three-way tie for third place in the Pac-10 with ASU and USC (all have 4-2-1 conference records) going into the final weekend of conference play, and UCLA sits atop the standings with a 5-0-2 record.

These games will have a major effect on not only how the conference standings turn out, but also which teams qualify for the NCAA College Cup Nov. 11-Dec. 4.

It may be the toughest conference road trip of the season for the Wildcats, but many of them will have plenty of support. A little bit of home goes a long way.

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