‘Eaters Prep for Upcoming Season
Last fall, the women’s soccer team played their way to an unprecedented 14-4-3 season, making it the single season with the third-best win percentage in program history. The season also marked the 12th campaign with double-digit wins — four of which have come from Coach Scott Juniper in just the last five seasons. Despite a heartbreaking season-ending loss in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to the San Diego Toreros, Irvine is making its mark in the women’s world of soccer. As the summer is upon us, it’s time for a new year, and a new team.
This fall, the ’Eaters will take the field without the familiar force of CoCo Goodson in the backfield and scoring machine Lexi Kopf on the frontline. As seven seniors graduated in June, they subsequently left seven spots in the lineup for new players to rightfully claim.
“We have a lot of incoming girls this year,” said senior forward Dana Sanderlin. “We are going to be a new team [while also] sticking to our team culture. It’s always exciting to see how new players will impact the team and how the older [players] step up in different ways.”
Sanderlin and the ’Eaters will be joined by eight new players this fall, including national champion Rachel Wood. Wood, a local from Laguna Niguel, began her college career at the University of North Carolina in 2008, where she helped the Tar Heels win a National Championship that same year. For her final year of eligibility, Wood will be transferring to Irvine, where she will display her talent as a center forward.
“She will be a handful for any defender,” said Juniper earlier this year to the Athletic Department. “She adds to a wonderful blend of forwards we will have here in August, and she brings the same kind of winning mentality that has become the identity of Anteater Women’s Soccer.”
While fans will see a number of new faces take the field at Anteater Stadium, they will also see the return of young forward Cami Privett, who earned a spot on the All-Freshman second team just after being named the Big West Freshman of the Year; she is the first ever women’s soccer player to receive the honor. Last season, Privett finished with five goals, two game-winners, four assists and 15 points.
All-Conference first team honoree Natalie Ledezma, who was the only sophomore to be named to the team, will also be back in action for the blue and gold this fall. Ledezma is making a name not only for herself, but also for the ’Eaters, as she totals 12 goals, three game-winners and eight assists in the program.
Power will return not only to the frontlines for the ’Eaters, but on defense as well, with All-Big West Honorable Mention honoree Jennifer Randazzo. As goalkeeper for the ’Eaters, Randazzo started in all 21 matches, and played in all but 43 minutes as a freshman. The San Jose native blocked 73 shots while allowing just 20 goals for a 0.94 goals-against-average. Randazzo also recorded six shutouts.
With both proven and new talent, the ’Eaters are hungry for a domineering season and have already begun preparations for the 2012 campaign. While the team will check in for official training later this month, the players continue to work and improve individually. The ’Eaters were issued a summer packet prepared by the trainers and coaching staff that details a number of fitness tests and strength workouts along with goal numbers. With a competitive fall schedule ahead, the ’Eaters look forward to the challenge.
“This upcoming season we have tough competitors and we are very excited about it,” said Sanderlin. “We love the challenge of playing big teams and going on the road. That’s the best part of season, at least for me. Over the years the competition keeps getting better and better and we love it.”
While the team will rigorously train as a unit through August, they also begin preseason with four back-to-back home games against BYU, Texas A&M, Loyola Marymount and Auburn.
“When we check in for pre-season we go straight to work,” said Sanderlin. “We are constantly looking [for] areas where we can improve and become a stronger program. Our team and supporters are really excited to see what this season has in store for us.”