Back and Ready to Attack

The UC Irvine men’s soccer team has started their season off almost perfectly. The Anteaters began the year by going 4-2. They were defeated 2-1 by Saint Mary’s in Double Overtime at Anteater Stadium on Friday night. Next, the ‘Eaters will next take on Sacramento State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Anteater Stadium.

The Anteaters started the new 2009 season off by defeating Santa Clara with a score of 3-2. On Sept. 5, UCI defeated Long Island, 1-0, at Irvine and then defeated Cleveland State two days later. The Anteaters lost their first match of the year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They lost to DePaul by one goal. Irvine rebounded two days later and defeated Marquette by blanking them 1-0 on Sept. 13.

UC Irvine has averaged 1.67 goals a game and has held their opponents to an average of about one goal a game. They have also doubled the number of shots on goal (S.O.G.) compared to that of their opponents with 44 S.O.G. to 23 S.O.G. The Anteaters average 16 shots a game compared to their opponent’s 7. Sophomore goalie Andrew Fontein has a save percentage of 69.6 and 16 saves on the year.

Offensively, the UCI Men’s Soccer team is led by junior forward Amani Walker. He leads the team in goals scored with 4 and is second in assists with 2. Senior forward Carlos Aguilar is second to Walker in points with 7. He has scored 2 goals and recorded three assists to lead the team. Junior forward, Spencer Thompson has also scored two goals on the season.

Amani Walker has said that the reason behind the fast start is “because we (the team) know how to be successful because of last year. We have outstanding players that know what to do. Everyone has contributed in a great way.”

As mentioned before, UCI is ranked 16th nationally in the current College Soccer News poll. The team is ranked 20th in the Soccer America poll this week and the team is also ranked nnth in the most recent NSCAA/Adidas poll and 11th in the most recent SoccerTimes poll. UCI is ranked fourth in the Far West region by the NSCAA/Adidas regional poll.

A few Anteaters have already received some awards on the young year. Walker was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week as well as the Soccer America Men’s Team of the Week and Big West Player of the Week for the opening week of the season. Senior Irving Garcia earned accolades earlier on, when he was named to Soccer America’s Preseason All-America second team heading into the 2009 Season.

Coach George Kuntz is happy that his players are getting noticed, but he says the team is the important thing.

“We hope that all our players step up. Its good to get rcognized, but we are a family,” Kuntz said. “The whole is greater than the parts. It’s a shared success within the team and the guys know that.”

At the helm of the Anteater’s ship is Head Coach George Kuntz who is in his 15th year at UCI. Kuntz was named NSCAA Far West Region Coach of the Year in 2008 for the second time in the past three years. He has also achieved the Big West Coach of the Year in two of the past three years.

Coach Kuntz has his squad playing at a very high level and this seems to be because of the intense determination that the team has.

“We attribute the success to the fact that the guys have put in a lot of effort in the offseason,” Kuntz said. “The team is also motivated by last year’s Sweet 16 loss. They want to get back to the tournament.”

With the season in full swing, Kuntz and his staff have been pleased by the effort of the team.

“As a staff, we feel that there is always room to improve,” Kuntz said. “For the most part the team has achieved its goals. We feel that we have outplayed every team we have faced. Our conditioning is getting better.”