Stay CLASS-y Irvine

UC Irvine features 18 intercollegiate athletic teams. From sport to sport, future doctors, lawyers and business owners disguise themselves in Anteater uniforms. From alumnus Francis Larson, who is attending a Master’s program at the London School of Economics while playing minor league baseball, to recent graduate Tanya Taylor playing professional soccer after receiving a criminology degree, there’s plenty of talent to go around on the field and in the classroom for Irvine.

Two Anteater soccer players truly demonstrate their athletic, community and academic prowess and have received recognition for doing things the right way. They are: senior goalkeeper Andrew Fontein and senior defender CoCo Goodson.

Three summers ago, Fontein stepped into Anteater Stadium for the first time. Three seasons later, he stands as the current school record holder for most wins, shutouts, matches and minutes played. Fontein has become an unforgettable name for Irvine. In his first year the goalkeeper etched his name into the UCI history books as the first-ever Anteater to become the Big West Tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Big West Freshman of the Year. He did so with five shutouts, 73 saves, and a 1.02 goals against average – a feat that ranks him 4th best in school history.

“I was really excited and eager to prove my worth and to make a name for myself,” Fontein said.

With such prestigious accolades, the humble player notes that the honors do not simply reflect his own personal work-ethic, but rather highlight the dedication and talent displayed by the entire team. In the summer of 2010, defender CoCo Goodson joined the Anteaters as a junior transfer from the University of Texas. Goodson began playing soccer at the age of eight. College sports are nothing new to the Goodsons – her mother, father and grandfather were also Division I athletes in sports including football, baseball and tennis. As a high school standout and a four-time letter winner, Goodson earned the honor of All-CIF first team at Cathedral Catholic High School. After graduation, she began her college career at Texas where she tied for first on her team with six goals and four assists as a freshman and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week in September 2008. Goodson recorded two goals and two assists in her sophomore season before realizing that she wanted to share her college career with her family.

“I wanted to be back home,” Goodson said. “I knew Scott [Juniper, the UCI women’s soccer head coach] because he recruited me originally, and I really liked him as a coach, so when I was transferring, UCI was the only school that I looked at.”

Having played either with or against most of the women on the UCI soccer team, once back in California, Goodson loved the familiarity of both the location and the players.

Like Goodson, Fontein got his start at a young age when the energetic 3-year-old played recreational soccer for the first time. Athletics were valued in the Fontein household: Andrew’s two older sisters and older brother also played a number of sports growing up.

“My Mom would take me to every game and every practice,” Fontein said. “I remember when I was little she would even tie my shoes and put my shin guards on.”

Originally a field player, Fontein’s status as the tallest on his team inspired his coach to place him in the goal. Now having played goalkeeper in recreation, club, high school and college, Fontein describes his style of play as “efficient.”

“I try to move as efficiently as possible and as fast as I can,” he said. “If your habit is to move really direct, you’ll save a lot more shots.”

The goalie currently has 42 saves this season and set a personal record in the game against Cal State Northridge with 11 saves. Teammates look up to Fontein’s steadfast nature and serious approach to the game.

“Andrew is one of the hardest working and competitive players I have played with,” forward Enrique Cardenas said. “His work ethic and competitiveness spreads among the team.” Fontein’s commitment and leadership set the tone on the field, and defender Everett Pitts notes that Andrew is “the total package.”

“He’s one of the most solid goalkeepers I’ve ever played with,” he said. “Organizing, shot stopping, getting balls out of the air … Fontein’s great.”

Much like Fontein, Goodson has made her mark at UCI. In her first season as an ’Eater, shetotaled 18 points, contributing five game-winning goals.

“[Last year] we were always the underdogs, and making it to the Sweet 16 was really cool,” she said.

As an integral part of UCI’s success last season, Goodson caught the attention of the legendary Julie Foudy.

Foudy remarked Goodson was one of the best “free kick takers” that the gold medalist had ever seen. After an impressive season, she was named the Big West Defender of the Year.

On August 17th, the two standouts were nationally recognized as nominees for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, making UCI one of six schools to have both a female and male nominee in a single sport. The award celebrates achievement on the field, in the classroom, and within the community..

“The Lowe’s Senior Class award means a lot to me,” Goodson said. “It is a complete reflection of my family, soccer coaches, teachers, friends, and teammates. I would not have been able to receive this honor if it wasn’t for all of the hard work and effort that my team and I have put into our season.”

The two ’Eaters not only share in a nomination, but also share a common love for bringing the game to a younger generation. Both players have worked with youth soccer leagues and with Soccer For Hope, a program for children with cancer. Goodson expresses that her involvement with Soccer For Hope has been inspiring; she loves how the organization incorporates the things that she values.

“Soccer For Hope,” she said, “is based on character. It [teaches that] you can help other people through your sport. It lets me show people that it’s not just about [soccer] and what you’re good at, but it’s about how you present yourself and how you represent your school and your family.”

Goodson’s love for working with youth extends beyond soccer as the defender plans for a future in teaching.

“I definitely want to teach elementary school, and maybe coach high school soccer or club soccer, I really love working with younger kids,” she said.

Goodson’s drive to use the game as a vehicle for teaching sets the senior apart and was no doubt a factor in her nomination.

While both players hope to continue playing after their senior year, Fontein will go wherever the game takes him.. With a dream of playing in Europe, Andrew is drawn to the atmosphere of a place where people share his love for the game.

“I think it’s so cool how people [there] are really into [soccer] and are really passionate about it,” he said. “I would love to share something that I like so much with people that share that passion.”

What draws Fontein to Europe is the very thing that sets the goalkeeper apart as he takes his place between the posts – passion. It is obvious as a spectator watching Andrew in his element that soccer is much more than just a game to him.

“Soccer is the best way I know possible to express myself,” said Fontein. “It’s my relief. I can be a really calm person, but on the field, that’s when I let everything out. It’s how I express my emotions.”

On October 5th, Fontein was selected as one of ten finalists across the country for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. With the passion and dedication he brings to the game, he will represent UCI at the national level.

While both ’Eaters prepare for graduation, they will close a chapter of their lives as student athletes at UCI, a place they have made their own by breaking school records, representing the ’Eaters on a national level and by commanding the defensive lines of Anteater Stadium..

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award-winner is chosen based on a three-part selection process, including Division I college coaches, national media, and fans.

Help Fontein, UCI’s very own finalist, bring this award home to UCI by voting once a day now through November 14 at www.seniorclassaward.com.