UC Irvine is starting its soccer season with a bang!
The men’s team opened their season with an impressive 1-0 win against Marist. Since then, the Anteaters have put on an impressive streak, with significant wins against no. 16 Louisville and San Diego State en route to a 3-1-1 record.
Led by Lester Hayes III, the Anteaters took ten more shots on goal than the Cardinals, finally breaking through with a 69th minute goal. Hayes goal proved to be the difference maker in a game that was clearly dominated by UC Irvine. After beating no. 19 Virginia, the Cardinals have struggled as of late and are only 2-2-0 to start the season.
As for the Anteaters, the win definitely sets a good tone for the season, considering it is the first win against a ranked opponent since 2011. The Anteaters must continue to trudge on however, with important games coming up against former no. 8 Indiana, and current no. 14 UCLA.
The Anteaters are averaging an impressive 15.6 shots per game. To put that in perspective, if they keep this up, expect a top 25 finish. No doubt it is too early to make assumptions about the entire season, but there is definitely something different about this year’s team. Call it experience, or call it determination, whatever it may be it’s translating into some important wins for UC Irvine out on the pitch.
The UC Irvine women’s soccer team is once again turning heads on the pitch. It should come as no surprise that the Lady Anteaters are playing so well. Led by former UCLA standout Natalia Ledezma, and Junior Forward Laura McGrail, the Anteaters are 4-3-0 excluding exhibition games, with a huge win against no. 6 BYU.
With the score tied heading in to the 90th minute, Senior Zoya Farzaneh set Ledezma up with a beautiful pass. Ledezma then split the double and stuck the ball in the back of the net to give UC Irvine the go ahead goal in the 90th minute. Playing in front of a packed stadium in Provo, Utah, the Lady Anteaters proved they belonged in the same class as the Cougars.
Until that goal by Ledezma, both teams were tied with three shots on goal, but the fourth one by UC Irvine proved to be the difference maker as the Anteaters continued their stellar play early on in the season.
The no. 6 ranked Cougars are the highest ranked opponent UC Irvine has beaten in the program’s history, but the way the Anteaters have started this season, there could be many more record breaking results before the end of the year.
The early success of the Anteaters is something that’s hoped to continue in order to build on as they begin to play more significant conference games this season.
The Anteaters finish off their four game road trip at Loyola Marymount University on Friday before returning home to face Washington State on Sunday.