UCI Athletics 2010-11 Year in Review
George Kuntz led the No. 11 men’s soccer team to a 14-3-3 overall record, giving the school three consecutive winning seasons. With seniors Spencer Thompson and Amani Walker playing up top, UC Irvine was ranked sixth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 2.3 goals per game. Corey Attaway anchored the ninth best defense in the nation, averaging 0.63 goals against. Though this has been one of the most impressive seasons to date, the season ended anticlimactically as the Big West regular season champions fell to Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals at home, 2-1. Controversy followed as UCI was left out of the NCAA tournament despite finishing the regular season ranked 11th in the nation.
The UCI women’s soccer team ended their season with a historic run in the NCAA Tournament. Big West Coach of the Year Scott Juniper led his team to a 19-3-2 overall record, setting the school mark for victories. After a breakout season with 11 goals and 12 assists, Tanya Taylor was selected by the Boston Breakers in the fourth round of WPS Draft. Her offensive breakthrough earned her the Big West Offensive Player of the Year. The team secured its first birth to the NCAA tournament in 27 years and gained national attention by reaching the Sweet 16 as the Cinderella mid-major. After beating Arizona State in the first round 2-1 and Wake Forest in the second round 2-0, their journey came to a halt after suffering a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Washington in double overtime.
The’Eaters showed that they could step up their game against top Division I competition, losing to UCLA by just one point. Though the team also recorded victories over Big West regular-season champion Long Beach State and Big West Tournament champion UC Santa Barbara, consistency was an issue as the Anteaters finished the season with a 13-19 record. First-year coach Russell Turner managed to build the best offense in the Big West, averaging 75.3 points per game, but an injury-depleted frontcourt did not translate to a winning team. Nevertheless, Turner proved that his team had a lot of grit as he led UCI to back-to-back double overtime victories against UC Davis and Pacific to clinch a spot in the Big West tournament. The ’Eaters’ run ended in the first round of the tournament when they fell to Long Beach State, 79-72.
The UCI women’s basketball team got off to a hot start, going 11-4 in the first half of the season. However, the team started to regress and went 4-10 to end the season, entering the Big West Tournament barely above the .500 mark. The disappearance of Mikah Maly-Karros, who led UCI in scoring (19.5) and rebounds (9.7), may have been a reason for the decline. Coach Molly Goodenbour built a high-scoring team that was ranked second in 3-pointer percentage (.347) and third in scoring offense (67.0), but that was not enough to become the best in the Big West. The ’Eaters ended their season with their worst game of the year, losing to UC Davis, 72-45, in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament.
The volleyball team finished the season with a 19-12 record and entered the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament with high expectations. A team that entered the season ranked second in the nation took some time to find a balance between a new crop of youngsters and a solid core of veterans, but ended the regular season with six straight wins, including dominating wins against both Ohio State and UC Santa Barbara, the two teams that eventually appeared in the national title game. Sadly, the ’Eaters season ended in devastating fashion when they were unable to beat then No. 1 USC in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament.
The UCI men’s tennis team made it to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year after winning the Big West tournament in dominating order. Unfortunately, they were unable to kick the tournament off with a bang, losing to Ole Miss in the first round 4-1. Nevertheless, this was a season to reflect positively on. Ranked No. 40 in the nation, UCI was fortunate to have the services of Chris Kearney, who ranked No. 42 in the nation in singles. His talents on the court earned him Big West Player of the Year, while Coach Trevor Kronemann won Big West Coach of the Year and Ryan Cheung won Co-Freshman of the Year.
Women’s Water Polo
The UCI women’s water polo team had its most successful season in school history. The team took fifth place in the NCAA Tournament after beating the Indiana Hoosiers 12-8. Klatt and company went 23-9 this season and broke records. Danielle Warde broke the UCI freshman record with 60 goals this season, while Jesse Cardey set a new personal-high scoring 58 goals. The team scored 341 goals, breaking their previous record from 2009 (314) and averaged 10.66 goals per game, surpassing their 2009 team’s average (9.81). The team’s consistency was marked by their ability to involve all the players in the game, as seen by their match against Vanguard as 14 different Anteaters scored in the 22-goal romp.
Currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, the team is once again a strong contender for the upcoming NCAA tournament. They proved their ability to compete with the likes of UCLA and CSUF, despite having a group of unproven pitchers and freshmen who have since emerged on to the scene. Standout ace in Matt Summers, who just threw the fourth no-hitter in UCI history against Long Beach State, has been joined by solid number two Matt Whitehouse as well as the return of redshirt junior Crosby Slaught and new freshmen standouts Jimmy Litchfield and Andrew Thurman. Brian Hernandez and Drew Hillman lead a balanced lineup that hopes to advance past the NCAA regional for the first time since 2008.