They’ve Got It Covered

Sofia Panuelos | Staff Photographer

After tying the Waves of Pepperdine on Sept. 10, the Lady Anteaters stood at 3-1-2. Although they only had a single blemish on their record, the women’s soccer team had allowed a significant number of goals, nine through their first six games.

After struggling to record a shutout, Danielle de Seriere, the senior goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, sat down with her old goalkeeper coach.

“He told me about his mentality when he played in college,” de Seriere said. “He said, ‘If you don’t get scored on, you will be a national champion.’”

Both de Seriere and Andrew Fontein, the junior goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team, have been motivated by this mentality.

Ten games after the 1-1 tie against Pepperdine, de Seriere and the rest of the Lady Anteaters defense went on a tear, recording eight shutouts.

“We started taking more pride,” de Seriere said. “I told my teammates that we should take pride in recording that zero on the scoreboard.”

For Fontein, winning starts with commitment on the defensive end. And this commitment was made evident in the first five games of the season. Before the Anteaters suffered a 2-0 loss to
Sacramento State, the team was riding a five-game shutout streak. Fontein has now recorded ten shutouts on the season, with 19 in his UCI career, good for most all-time in the Anteater history books.

“If we don’t get scored on, it keeps our team in the game until the last minute,” Fontein said.

Between the two, de Seriere and Fontein have allowed 16 goals through 29 games and have notched 18 shutouts. But these two players share more than a significant amount of shutouts, saves and very few allowed goals. Their similar approaches have arguably made them two of the greatest goalies in school history.

The defensive prowess that both goalies typify starts with their thirst for success and killer instincts.

Although de Seriere has kept teams scoreless in eight games this season, she feels that it should have been even more. When she looks back at the first couple games of the season, the senior feels that some of the games could have, and should have, been shutouts.

“When we played Gonzaga we were beating them 6-0 and then they scored two goals,” de Seriere said. “I was so upset that I got two goals scored on me.”

The men’s soccer team has displayed their defensive attitude by going after teams for the entire 90 minutes of games. But this mindset begins with Fontein’s attitude.

“I’m a big believer in a killer instinct,” Fontein said. “If you are winning 5-0, why not make it 8-0, you can’t let your foot off the gas.”

Sofia Panuelos | Staff Photographer

The focus that these two defensive stars maintain during games is another reason for their success. Both players have been involved in games where most of the action occurred in the middle of the pitch or on the opposing side.

De Seriere saw her team go on the offensive attack, as the Lady Anteaters scored six goals against Davis.

“You have to stay checked in,” de Seriere said. “If you get scored on during one of those games, you feel bad and you are not happy with yourself.”

Despite seeing his team score five goals against the Air Force Academy on Sept. 12, Fontein saw no reason to mentally check out of the game.

“My focus is always there. I’m always 100 percent in the game. Even if I did not get shot at during the game, I still prepare as if I was getting shot at twenty times,” Fontein said.

Although both keepers have received most, if not all, the recognition for the success, they give credit to their defenders that play in front of them. For the Lady Anteaters, the return of Sarah Devine, Nikki Forrest, Alyssa Humphrey and the addition of CoCo Goodson have all been part of the reason why de Seriere has been able to record shutout after shutout.

“My coach says the goalkeepers always get the recognition for the shutouts, but I always give my team full credit,” de Seriere said. “Sometimes I won’t have to make a save because my team stops everything in front of me.”

The story is much the same for Fontein. His back defenders consist of Corey Attaway, Joel Bagby, Gray Bailey, Everett Pitts and Jimmy Turner. Between these five players, they have accumulated 21 years of collegiate soccer experience. This experience has paid dividends, making the keeper’s job easier.

The two goalies may have talented and experienced defenders in front of them, but there is no question that they are the anchors and leaders of their respective defenses. Their vocal presence and authoritative nature is unparalleled by anyone else on their teams.

De Seriere and Fontein make it a point of emphasis to constantly give their defenders pointers during games. Whether it is telling a teammate to check his or her shoulder or which direction they should cover, these two players are irreplaceable leaders who do more than just save goals for UCI soccer.

If something needs to be said or if encouragement needs to be given, these players take the initiative. When a teammate is not doing his or her job or if a certain defender made a mistake, there is no doubt that these two goalies will correct the problem. On the same note, they will give added support to anyone who needs it.

“If someone is in the right position, I will let them know that they are doing something right,” Fontein said. “It makes them feel more comfortable and confident.”

These two keepers took very distinct routes to UC Irvine, but the impact they have made on their respective programs is very similar. Fontein is a Las Vegas native, who had his hopes set on playing at Villanova University. But after some last-minute complications, he decided to call Coach George Kuntz and attend UC Irvine.

De Seriere, a native of Southern California, considered many schools before committing to play soccer at UC Irvine. When de Seriere made her official visit to UCI, she immediately fell in love with everything the campus and the soccer program had to offer.

Once the keepers stepped onto the field, their impact became evident. Fontein’s arrival to the men’s soccer team meant added stability to the program. He has helped carry the Anteaters to two postseason berths in the last two years. And this year is no exception, as they are looking to participate in the postseason tournament once again. .

Danielle’s impact on the women’s soccer team has dramatically changed the culture of the women’s soccer program. The year before de Seriere’s arrival, the Lady Anteaters went winless in conference games, posting a Big West record of 0-8. Four years later, the women’s team is looking to make a deep run in the postseason.

“My freshman year we had a pretty good season, but it was nowhere near where we are at now,” de Seriere said.

As de Seriere’s old goalkeeper coach said, “national champions don’t get scored on.” And the path to becoming national champions starts and ends with Andrew Fontein and Danielle de Seriere.