Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - The pine trees. When Paul Nagy thinks back to his time in Nacogdoches, Texas, he sees the pine trees.
"It's definitely a different environment and atmosphere than you would think in east Texas," said Nagy.
Nacogdoches, Texas is the home of Stephen F. Austin State University. Just a few years ago, it was also home to Nagy, fellow assistant Kylie Louw, and head Arizona soccer coach Tony Amato.
Prior to coming to Arizona, Nagy and Amato coached the Ladyjacks. Louw was one of their players. Which makes Sunday's match against Stephen F. Austin a tad personal.
"You can give all the cliches and say that it doesn't matter, that you're just focused on your own team," said Amato, " We're tied to that program. Kylie played with some of those players. We coached them, recruited some of them. We're connected to that."
"We surely want to get the win."
A win would give Arizona a 5-0 record. That mark would stand as the best start in school history. So this match isn't just personal. It could be historic.
Speaking of history, Amato and Nagy led SFA for three seasons and brought the Ladyjacks to unprecedented heights. During their tenure, SFA won two conference titles and made the NCAA tournament. At one point the team was ranked in the top 50. Louw was a huge part of that run.
"We had a great team, great chemistry," said Louw.
Understatement. Under Amato's tutelage, Louw was named conference player of the year three straight seasons, a first in the school's history. Even more impressive was the fact that Amato convinced the South African national team member to stay on the SFA roster. After a freshman season that saw her win the conference Freshman Of The Year, Louw was ready for a bigger challenge.
"I was realistic with myself," said Louw. "Maybe I can achieve more at a Pac-12 school. SEC school. (Amato) said to me, 'Fair enough.You're a great player. You can achieve at those schools but I think I can make you better.'"
After outlining exactly how he intended to make her better, Louw thought it over and decided to stay. Three seasons later she finished up one of the most impressive careers in SFA history.
That was then. This is now.
"You put energy in everything you're involved in right now. When I played for SFA I gave them everything I had.," said Louw. "On the day, I'm with Arizona and we've got a job to do."
"I think it might be a little weird for the first five minutes," said Amato. "Once the game gets going we're going to be focused on making sure our team does the right things to get the result."
Arizona faces Stephen F. Austin in the Sun Devil Desert Classic Sunday at 11:00 am.
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