At 3-2-1, the UC Irvine women’s soccer team begins their season under Head Coach Marine Cano, who is in his 11th year of coaching.
UCI finished fourth in the Big West last year and is predicted to do the same this year.
Although Cano feels that some positions are still a bit inexperienced, he is confident that the team will get better as the season progresses.
‘We have a great group of hardworking players,’ Cano said.
Cano believes ‘They are [the women’s soccer team] very excited about playing, and they are very fit, very fast and very strong.’
This bodes well for the Anteaters, whose toughest competitors include defending champion Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara.
All three are expected to finish ahead of UCI. Cano feels that they can crack the top three in the Big West. However, that will depend upon how well the players rise up to the challenge.
He considers sophomore Marissa Welliver to be one of the league’s best goalkeepers, and he has rising stars in Welliver’s fellow sophomores Lauryn Birkinshaw and Britney Webster.
The leadership role falls upon the shoulders of returning senior defenders Tara Weldon, Julie Scheppele and Alyson Spencer.
In addition, fifth-year Gina Scachetti returns from a two-year absence to play at the forward, center midfield and left wing positions.
‘We need to improve on scoring goals [as well as] keep up the tradition of tremendous defense,’ said Cano.
Cano knows ‘We’re not quite there yet, so we really want to jump to that level.’
Both the men’s and women’s teams are expected to finish fourth in the Big West.
After last year’s third-place finish, Head Coach Vince O’Boyle believes the hard work that his men’s team put into this summer will pay off.
‘We are in extremely great shape,’ O’Boyle said, ‘and they [the players] really set some high goals.’
Expect David Santos and Andrew Garratt, who have been in the program for all four years, to be the leaders for the men.
Coach O’Boyle also anticipates that juniors Tom Whelan and Ricky Barnes will perform well for the Anteaters.
On the women’s side, there are four returning standout players from last year’s squad.
Kim Ramirez, Kaleena Yee, Natalie St. Andre and Kelli Vanderburg lead a team that has 11 freshmen on its roster.
Despite the team’s youth, O’Boyle believes it won’t be a problem.
‘It will take time for them to come around,’ O’Boyle said.
But O’Boyle believes ‘these women are pretty talented and will continue to improve as the season goes along.’
Competition for the women will come from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Idaho and UC Santa Barbara.
The men’s team will also face a formidable Santa Barbara team, as well as Utah State.
The lack of experience at the big level is what O’Boyle hopes the men will overcome.
‘We’ve had a great tradition here at Irvine with the cross-country team,’ O’Boyle said.
O’Boyle would ‘like to see the women place in the top three in the Big West.’
As for the men, O’Boyle said, ‘I don’t think that we’re getting the respect we deserve. We’re better than fourth place. Now it’s just a matter of going out and proving it.’
Men’s Water Polo
Head Coach Ted Newland enters his 39th season coaching the UC Irvine Men’s Water Polo team, which finished fifth last year in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and is once again ranked fifth this season.
They will face some big competition from water polo powerhouses such as Stanford, USC, UCLA, Cal and Pepperdine, which sits right below UCI in the rankings.
Newland knows the strength of these opponents, and points to the defense as a weakness.
‘There are some great scorers on the other teams,’ Newland said.
Newland adds that ‘it will be difficult for us to try to contain players [such as] Stanford’s Tony Acevedo.’
Acevedo was one of the top scorers in the 2004 Olympic Games.
However, Newland will be counting on returning players Dreason Barry and Dan Noon to fill the leadership role.
As for the younger players on the team, Newland has faith that ‘they will get better in time.’
He expects the men to finish somewhere between fourth and seventh place.’
But, Newland said, ‘I would really like the team to end up fourth in the country.’
The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team is picked to finish third, along with Cal State Fullerton, according to preseason polls, but this is only a prediction, not an outcome.
The men have been training throughout spring and summer to prepare for a very challenging season, which will include Pac-10 teams as well as the Big West’s top conference picks, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge.
UCI started their season 0-2 but quickly gained momentum and are now 2-2.
Kuntz believes there is more unity, experience and team chemistry this year.
Head Coach George Kuntz believes junior midfielder Chris Klotz and sophomore forward Brad Evans are ‘two players we feel need to lift us at times.’
There are no superstars on this team, only hard workers.
According to Kuntz, ‘UCI is working on their goal scoring and breaking down opposing defenses,’ which ‘is critical to us right now.’
UC Irvine plans to play every game to ‘its utmost potential throughout the season,’ Kuntz said.
He adds that the team not only wants to make this season great, but also ‘to make this team
The UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team is already 7-0 this season, tying them with the 1981 team in best season starts.
A group of experienced veterans