Sports

You Can't Puck with Hockey

As a hockey fanatic, I feel it necessary to defend the sport that I follow with such a passion. From the time I started following hockey — when the Minnesota North Stars packed their sticks and pucks and migrated down south to Dallas — to now, I have noticed that hockey, as a sport, and the players that play it, do not receive the respect they so dearly deserve. Perhaps I find this lack of respect as a personal insult because I too play hockey. OK, OK, so rollerhockey isn’t “”real”” hockey and intramural floor hockey is far from the ice as possible. And I’m not Canadian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish or Czech. I’m Chinese and Vietnamese. Hell, I don’t think there’s even ice in Vietnam. Despite these setbacks, I still carry the mentality of a hockey player: The team comes first, pain is secondary. Sacrifice. Passion. All for the sport. To the untrained eye, the game of hockey is just a bunch of big guys with weird accents skating on ice and bashing each other all over the boards. The critics are, well, correct. But hockey is much more than goons (yes, that’s a hockey term) pummeling each other with roundhouses. Hockey is a game of skill, speed, instinct, and yes, brute strength. If you are a good player, there is a reason behind every single movement, every flick of the wrists, nod of the head, and stutter-step. Though it may not seem so on television, hockey is a game that is played at a blinding speed. And it takes immense skill to move and balance oneself while keeping an eye out for 100 mph pucks and the forearm of a 6’4″” defenseman, let alone finely tuning a wrist shop or a one-time slapper while under all this pressure. Balance is the key. Hockey is a game of juxtaposing concepts. All players, from a power-forward the size of Keith Tkachuk to the sniper Peter Bondra, need soft hands to score goals or to make the floating pass over defending sticks. At the same time, fists of granite like those of Darren McCarty’s or Chris Simon’s are needed to defend your team’s stars. Pure skill, like that of Jaromir Jagr and amazing puck control skills are also crucial. All the while, brute strength is required to barrel through a crushing check or two defenders. Compared to professional players from other sports, hockey players stand in a league of their own. From their mentality to their willingness to sacrifice everything for the team while on ice, hockey players’ devotion to the sport is unparalleled. Hockey players play injured. Mike Modano played with a broken wrist in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999. Brent Gilchrist took a puck in the mouth, breaking most of his teeth. He was shot up with pain killers and was out on the ice the next period. Superstars like Steve Yzerman and Keith Primeau lay their bodies on the ice to block 90 to 100 mph slap shots. Though most people would say these players are crazy for laying their bodies on the line, it just shows how much these players love their sport. More importantly, it shows they’re not playing for the money; they’re playing for the love of the game. I cannot find this devotion in any other sport. Football players complain about sprained wrists. Basketball players complain about sprained ankles. And, on the average, these players get paid much, much more than a hockey player. The size of the contract is also testament to how much hockey players are underappreciated. The highest paid hockey player right now is the Dominator, Dominik Hasek. He clocks in $10 million a year, and rightfully so. Yes, $10 million a year is absurd to pay for a person that plays a child’s game but compared to other sports, $10 million is mere change. Look at Alex Rodriguez. Trust me, playing goalie is, without doubt, the most difficult position to play, in any sport. A tiny, frozen, rubber puck flies off the stick of Al McInnis at 110 mph and is aimed straight at you. It’s not a pleasant situation to be in. Despite what most people say, watching hockey is far from being a bore. As mentioned before, it’s a fast-paced game, and following the puck becomes easier. But the epitome of human achievement in sports is winning the Stanley Cup. The Holy Grail of hockey is considered by many, even hockey enthusiasts, as the most difficult championship to win. Think about it. After 82 bone crushing, regular season games, NHL players still have to play up to another 28 playoff games. Playoff hockey is different. It’s more intense. It’s more electric. You can smell the tension in the air. The Cup is in sight and nothing, not a broken arm or a concussion will stop the players from getting to it. Non-enthusiasts do not realize this, but there is no ending a playoff game if there is a tie after overtime. The game continues, literally, into the wee hours of the morning until the final goal is scored. That’s why finally being able to drink from the Cup is so revered. Despite all that hockey players, both the professional and recreational, are willing to put on the line, they do not get the respect the game warrants. The history of the game is rich with long traditions. It is a travesty that the sport is not recognized for what it is: the epitome of human sacrifice. ...

Big Time Players, Big Time Egos

I am sure that even though Kobe Bryant joined the Los Angeles Lakers right out of high school, he did learn to spell. And obviously, Shaquille O’Neal, being a college graduate and all, can put letters in the right order to make legible and legitimate words. So, why is it that these two can’t learn that there is no “”I”” in “”team?”” The ongoing feud between the two Laker superstars, which is now being splashed across California newspapers’ sports pages, is childish. Can’t they realize that they need each other, and that without one another, they won’t win a championship? Each wants to be the focal point of the squad, and both have a very good argument. They both are, without question, superb athletes, and two of the most prominent players in the NBA. Shaquille is the dominant big man in the league. He is like no other since the days of Kareem and Wilt. He can control a game all by himself. I have always thought that, against one of the poorer teams in the league (e.g. the Clippers), Shaq could lay down 100 points. He is the big everything. Kobe, at the ripe age of 22, is becoming an unstoppable force in his own right. His explosiveness to the hoop is matched by few. He can make a shot from anywhere on the court. He is not Michael Jordan, not yet at least, but I see no problem with people comparing the legend and the kid and predicting that Kobe will be just as good. The thing is, without being on the same team, both men would only be good. The Lakers right now are very good. Now picture the Lakers without one or the other. Shaq leaves and some average center fills up the hole left vacant. Kobe would have the run of the team. He would lead the league in scoring, often knocking down 40 or 50 points. It would be the Kobe show, 24 hours a day. And the Lakers would win 45 games and bow out in the first round of the playoffs. Picture the Lakers without Bryant. Teams would double- and triple-team Shaq even more often than they do now. Hell, I would force Horace Grant to try and beat me. They too would win 45 games and be home watching the later playoff rounds on their gigantic television screens. All great championship teams needed more than one superstar. Jordan needed Pippen, Bird needed Parish and McHale, Magic needed Kareem, and now Kobe needs Shaq. Because as any player, manager or GM worth his salt would tell you, one player does not a championship team make. If all they want is personal gains, then they should be on other teams. If they want to go down in history as one of the greatest duos in history, each with a handful of championship rings, then they need to learn their roles and get along. The fact of the matter is that the team is Shaq’s. He should be the focus, with Kobe complimenting him from the outside and with penetration. Does this limit Kobe? Somewhat yes, but it does not limit their potential as the league’s best pair. Hell, Kobe is six years younger than Shaq. Wait eight years, and the offense can be all Kobe’s. Theoretically, the Lakers have the potential for a 10-year dynasty, which would bring glory and championships aplenty to a southland void of much to cheer about. Something that disturbs me is how the media is blowing this whole thing up. This is not the first time superstars have had problems. The media is only making it worse. Media people, let the organization be and things will work themselves out. After this column, that is. ...

UCSD Swimming Makes Waves

The UCSD men’s and women’s swim teams participated in their first home meets of 2001 last Sunday at Canyonview Pool. UC Davis and Claremont College were originally slated to compete in the meet, but Claremont was unable to attend at the last minute. Lyon Liew Guardian The previous day, the women’s team traveled to Los Angeles for a dual meet against Division I schools UCLA and Washington State University. Sandra Lopez, a junior who turned in stellar performances over the two days, said that the Tritons were happy to be back at home competing against a Division II school rather than Division I schools. “”The conditions [at UCLA] were far from good. It was a mentally challenging meet,”” she said. Lyon Liew Guardian Head coach Scott McGihon concurred that the facilities at UCLA’s Men’s Gym Pool were not very good. “”There was no place to warm up or warm down,”” he said. However, McGihon refused to use the swimming conditions as an excuse. “”UCLA and Washington State were in the same situation,”” he said. “”We didn’t swim our very best on Saturday but we performed extremely well [on Sunday] and responded well from the meet at UCLA.”” McGihon said that UCSD’s schedule, because it includes Division I schools like UCLA, will be good preparation for nationals. “”You want to schedule with good teams so you can get experience against fast people,”” he said. Lopez competed in the 200-meter breaststroke, the 200-meter IM, and the 200-meter freestyle on Sunday, winning all three events with times of 2:21.40, 2:13.70 and 1:57.60, respectively. At UCLA she posted an impressive second place finish in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:06.37. Also bringing in notable times were Jennifer Watanabe, a sophomore, and Carly Ross, a freshman. Watanabe turned in two second place finishes in the 200 backstroke (2:04.87) and the 200 IM (2:11.18) at UCLA and continued her strong performance on Sunday with top times in the 100 backstroke (59.23) and the 500 freestyle (5:07.34). Ross claimed first place in the 200 freestyle on Saturday with a mark of 1:54.25 and the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.16 at home. The women’s 200 freestyle relay teams did well both days. Saturday’s relay team, comprised of Carolyn Kwok, Evelyn Kwok, Sharon Smith and Samantha Wong, came in second at UCLA (1:41.10). A similar team, this one with swimmers Carolyn Kwok, Evelyn Kwok, Smith and Christina Guintu, finished first on Sunday with an even faster time (1:40.39). The Triton men’s team came out with authority Sunday, putting in one of their best meets of the season. The team had put in a tough week of training after returning from winter break, and it was evident. Leading the way was Christian Deck, a junior, who finished no lower than third in all of his events. Deck competed in the 400 medley relay, the 50 freestyle (21.95), the 100 freestyle (47.89), and the 200 freestyle relay, finishing second in all events except the 50 freestyle, in which he placed third. The 400 medley relay team, made up of Deck, Luke Seed, Rusty Jones and Ryan Wong brought in a mark of 3:31.36. In the 200 freestyle relay, Deck, Seed, Daniel Fisher and Pat Carter finished in 1:28.73. “”Individually, this was one of my strongest mid-season meets,”” Deck said. “”We’re in a good position and it looks promising for nationals.”” McGihon was extremely pleased with Deck’s performance, both individually and with the relay teams. “”He swam about as fast as he did in nationals last year,”” McGihon said. The next, and final, home meet for both teams will be on Jan. 27 against California Baptist University. McGihon wants to use that meet as a springboard for the conference and national meets. The teams will have two weeks off before the conference finals in Long Beach, where the goal is to allow swimmers who have not yet qualified for nationals to do so. For those who have already qualified, the goal is to peak right around nationals. Lopez feels that the Tritons have a great shot at winning nationals. “”We need to come together and perform like we know we can,”” she said. “”It’s going to take everyone.”” With the strong showing at home this past weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams are in a good position to achieve their goals. ...

Tritons Fall in Opener

The path to success is one paved with sundry obstacles, an age-old adage that the Triton men’s volleyball team found to be true in its first weekend of play. It opened the season with a non-league scrimmage on Friday night versus California Baptist University. Lyon Liew Guardian Despite UCSD’s pregame intentions, the more seasoned Cal Baptist team, which already has five games under its belt, took the showdown in four sets. The Tritons were able to muster only a third set victory in a squeaker, 30-27. The other three sets were all Cal Baptist, as they took the first 30-22, the second 30-26, and the fourth and deciding by a tally of 30-28. While they did present a challenge at times, especially in the close final set, the Tritons struggled against opposition that should not have been very difficult for them to beat. Cal Baptist’s attack was led by Rafael Paal, who had 13 kills and six digs to go along with his four service aces. Other standouts for the opposition were Rick Schapler, with 11 kills, seven digs and Matt Peacock, who compiled 10 kills and three digs. Teammate Ivan Topchiyski also chipped in with seven digs in the winning effort. There were a few instances of inspired play for the Tritons, who looked mainly to be getting the kinks out and the wheels greased in their initial match. Senior standout Zach Hite looked strong, blasting 10 kills and picking up four digs. Donald Chen, the Triton MVP following their 2000 Division III Championship campaign, tied for the UCSD game lead with 11 kills, also adding four digs. Brian Foote, the 6-foot-6-inch sophomore middle who is a new addition to this year’s squad, also had 11 kills in the Triton effort. Another newcomer, Orange County College transfer Griffin Cogorno also showed signs of his impressive ability, clubbing nine kills and leading the team with seven digs in his first game wearing UCSD colors. Lyon Liew Guardian Despite the bright play from these Triton leaders, the Tritons fell to their opponent in this match. Cal Baptist, 1-3 coming into Friday night’s game, improved to two wins on the season and does not look to be much of a contender this season. With upcoming matches against some of California’s strongest programs looming, these early season jitters and miscues must be ironed out if Larsen’s team is to be successful. That was not done yet by the time the team had to compete in its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match, when the Tritons were downed by the Gauchos from UC Santa Barbara in three straight sets. In front of an estimated 300-person RIMAC Arena crowd, the Gauchos took the match with set-winning scores of 30-20, 30-24 and 30-24. The Gauchos, led by Andy Rivera with nine kills and seven blocks, were also playing their first game of the 2001 Mount Pacific Federation season. Rivera was backed up by Alex Lienert, who had eight kills, four blocks and four digs, and Dave Kohl, who picked up six kills and three digs to go with his two service aces. Another key performer for UCSB in the win was Anders Bengstsson, a 6-foot-5-inch sophomore and Swedish import who notched eight kills, with no errors out of 11 attempts, for a whopping .727 hitting percentage. The Gaucho bombs were allowed by setters Jeff Minc with 22 assists and Brett Malang with 18 in the win. The Tritons, despite the inability to win any of their sets, were competitive in each and showed signs that the three-set sweep did not accurately portray the disparity between the two clubs. The play of Hite and Cogorno was once again impressive, as each had 10 kills, with Hite also adding nine digs and three blocks. Chen was once again the man in charge on offense for the Tritons, zapping the Gauchos with 12 kills, while throwing down four blocks in the loss. Setters Eric Perrine and Jordan Hove supplied the juice to the hitters, with Perrine dealing up 22 assists and Hove dishing 18. With the victory the Gauchos climbed to 2-0, with a 1-0 record in the MPSF. UCSD, playing in its first official game, fell to 0-1, in-league and overall. They will next venture up into the freeway-choked urban wasteland that is Los Angeles to face off against USC Friday night at 7 p.m. ...

Accolades Abound for Triton Athletes

The excellence of UCSD’s fall athletes was affirmed recently when they received a number of honors and awards. Two members of the Division II National Championship women’s soccer team, Cindy Dostalek and Julia Cuder, were named to the 2000 National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America All-America First Team for Division II. Dostalek had a fantastic season, scoring 12 goals and dishing nine assists. To top off her stellar season, she scored the winning goal in the Division II championship game. Cuder, a junior, finished the season with eight goals and 13 assists. Four assists came in a game against United States International University, which tied a school record. Erika Alfredson joined Dostalek and Cuder on the 2000 National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America All-West Region First Team for Division II. Alfredson, a junior, led the Tritons with 16 goals and eight assists. In the pool, the men’s water polo team was no slouch as far as awards are concerned. Jonathan Samuels, who was instrumental to the Tritons’ berth in the water polo championship game, was named to the Second Team All-American by the American Water Polo Coaches Association and was named Division II Player of the Year. Samuels, a junior, dominated in the pool. He scored 67 goals, and logged 29 steals, 17 assists and nine blocks. Triton head coach Denny Harper was named Division I Coach of the Year. Harper coached the Tritons to a 21-9 record this year and a berth in the championship game. He was also named Division II Coach of the Year. Jason Boettner and Justin Wylie, both seniors, earned Division I All-American honorable mentions and were named to the Division II All-American First Team. Senior goalie Glenn Busch also made the All-American First Team. Not to be left out, the men’s soccer team also garnered its fair share of awards. Bobby Saadati, who was unstoppable for the Tritons, earned First Team All American Division II honors. Saadati, a junior, logged 10 goals and four assists in guiding the Tritons to a 11-5-2 record. ...

Mixed Reviews on the Road for UCSD

The UCSD men’s and women’s basketball teams completed a weekend set of games against CSU Bakersfield and CSU Stanislaus. On Friday evening, the women’s team took the court first, taking on CSUB. The Roadrunners took an early lead at 13-8, but the Tritons battled their way to a 34-30 advantage by halftime. Throughout the second half, UCSD hung on to its lead, overtaking the Roadrunners by 18 points, making the score 54-36. Bakersfield fought back to cut the deficit to two points, 64-62, with less than two minutes remaining, but that was the closest it could get to the Tritons again. Ashley led UCSD in scoring and rebounds with 18 points and nine boards, shooting 8-10 from the field. Following the women’s game, the UCSD men’s team took its turn against the Roadrunners. The Tritons trailed throughout the first half, but came as close as one point at 26-25. CSUB took a 37-29 lead into halftime and held off the Tritons the rest of the way. Sam Higgins led all scorers with 22 points and shot 7-8 from the field. Hoping to complete the weekend with two wins, the UCSD women went up against CSU Stanislaus. In the first half it looked as though the Tritons were on their way to a win, building a 39-31 halftime lead. UCSD used the perimeter shooting of guard Maya Fok, who hit four three-pointers. However, CSU Stanislaus came out strong in the second half, outscoring UCSD 42-22 for the half. With the loss the Tritons fell to 7-4 overall, and 3-3 in CCAA. In the following game, the UCSD men fell to CSU Stanislaus, 73-64. CSU Stanislaus used eight consecutive free throws in the final minute to complete the victory. Higgins again had a strong performance for UCSD (2-9, 1-5) and led the team in scoring with 21 points. The UCSD men’s assistant coach Dave Dillon praised Higgins play over the two games. “”He did a wonderful job over the weekend and shot the ball very well,”” Dillon said. The next two games, both away, for the UCSD men will be against CSU San Bernadino and Cal Poly Pomona. Although both teams are ranked in the top 25, Dillon said that the Tritons “”will try their best”” to win on the road. ...

Michael Vick is Not the Answer

The NFL playoffs may be in high gear with two rounds yet to be fought, but for the San Diego Chargers and their fans, the season was mercifully put out of its misery a few weeks ago. After tying the league’s record for futility in a 16-game season with a pitiful 1-15 record, the Chargers are obviously looking for answers. It seems as though I write a column about this time every year condemning the Chargers and their management for the decisions they made, but this year’s column is actually quite different. I think that this squad, which has fallen from AFC Champions to the league’s doormat in no time flat, has actually made a few correct choices, and with one more wise choice, may be on the way back up. First of all, the signing of John Butler as General Manager will only help matters. The guy is a proven winner. Butler’s first move, the signing of former Washington Redskins’ head coach Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, was also wise. With these two links in place, the Chargers go into the draft with a brain trust far mightier then they have had in previous years. But these two positive moves will all be for naught if they make a crucial mistake on draft day. A few days ago, The San Diego Union-Tribune ran a column on the front page of their sports section pleading with Chargers’ management to draft Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick with the number one pick. The article cited the tremendous upsides of Vick’s game — his run threat, pure athleticism and almost supernatural ability to avoid being sacked — as reasons for the choice being so important. From my point of view, the Chargers could not make a worse choice than drafting Vick. Assuming Vick leaves Virginia Tech early, and all indications are that he will, he will be a very hot commodity, and many teams will pursue the Chargers looking to trade into their No. 1 slot in the draft. I believe that the Chargers should take the best of these offers and trade the rights to the No. 1 pick for as many high draft choices as possible. They could then trade what they received for Vick to get even more, slightly lower, draft picks. Why go for quantity over quality? Simple. Even if Vick were Johnny Unitas’ grandson or Joe Montana’s illegitimate child, he still would not be enough to turn the Chargers around. Football is a team sport and even with God’s gift to football out at quarterback, the team would get shelled week in and week out without a good running back, linemen and wide receivers. The Chargers have none of these things. They need as many draft choices as possible to try to turn around the mess that they have built over the last four years. Vick simply isn’t the quarterback that the Chargers need. He can run like the wind but his arm is not outstanding, and his accuracy has been called into question many times. At best, the Chargers are looking at another Steve McNair, a good player, but not enough to warrant not trading down for the treasures that will no doubt be offered lower in the draft. Finally, the Chargers’ fans and management have made it dreadfully clear that they are not willing to wait for a promising quarterback to develop. We have seen this time and time again in the Ryan Leaf saga. The fans in San Diego constantly berate Leaf, but they forget that he has barely a year of experience when you factor in all the time he spent injured. No quarterback is ready for stardom after a year. John Elway wasn’t, Montana wasn’t, and more recently, Peyton Manning struggled his first year before launching to the heights he has now achieved. If San Diego personnel and fans cannot show the patience necessary to develop a young, raw talent, they should trade the pick and sign a veteran quarterback, possibly Mark Brunell of Jacksonville. The fact that Vick will probably be in this draft, along with the fact that his prowess for escaping onrushing defensive players was displayed last year in the national championship game against Florida State, makes the pick the Chargers hold very valuable. To maximize this value, the team needs to realize that one player is not going to get them out of the hole they have dug for themselves. ...

Volleyball to Face New Challenge

Returning from a Division III National Championship season to discover that not only have you lost a few key players, but must also now wage war in the split Division I and II playoffs in postseason play, would daunt even the most fearless of teams. Men’s volleyball coach Ron Larsen and his troops, however, are ready to meet the challenge. “”We’re better now than we were at the end of last season, when we won the Division III championships and beat San Diego State,”” Larsen said. “”Obviously we play in a very difficult league, with all the Division I scholarship schools like UCLA, USC and Stanford, but we are a good team and we are going to be able to compete.”” The Division III championship team of a year ago now has a completely different look to it. Gone are Ernie Young, last year’s starting middle; Matt Holve, who is abroad; and Ben Vernon, who chose to focus more on his academics. Replacing these players are two key recruits who will be impact players this coming season. Sophomore Brian Foott will add height at 6 feet 6 inches tall, and hold down the middle, while Orange Coast College transfer student Griffin Cogorno, who also checks in at 6 feet 6 inches, will contribute as an outside hitter. These two players are looked upon by Larsen and his staff to be an integral part of the Triton attack. Returning stalwarts such as Zach Hite, Jordan Hove and Donald Chen will be asked to step their game up and take the team to the next level. Hite, in particular, looks to ratchet his game up a notch. “”Zach was a very good player for us last year,”” Larsen said. “”Now, entering his senior year, he looks even more determined and should contribute even more for us this year.”” Chris Mortimer is another player who will be crucial to the Tritons’ success. “”Last year Chris was a starter for us and performed well, but this year he has come back a lot stronger and will play an increased role for us this season,”” Larsen commented. With the return of these seasoned veterans and the addition of new personnel, UCSD looks to be solid on the hardwood. Larsen feels that balanced play over the duration of the season will be integral to the team’s success. “”Our ability to compete in every match with a high level of intensity will be very important for us,”” he said. “”At this level of play, we cannot afford a letdown at any time, because all of these teams are so good that they will make us pay for it. We need to serve well and side out at a high level to be successful. Most important, though, is making sure that we continue to play with a high degree of competitive excellence and stay consistent.”” The Tritons embark on their 2000-2001 campaign this Friday in smog-choked Riverside, where they will battle with California Baptist University. Larsen sees this as an advantageous way to open the season. “”This weekend will show us where we are at this point and what we have accomplished so far,”” he said. “”Cal Baptist has a good program, with scholarship players, but we should be able to do well against them. More important will be to keep up our level of competitiveness in the next few matches.”” Those next few matches will be the team’s initial Mountain Pacific Sports Federation games, where the Tritons will face off against their in-league nemeses. First up amongst them is their Saturday night matchup with UC Santa Barbara, in the team’s home opener at RIMAC Arena. This matchup with the Gauchos will be the team’s first true test of how far it has come since last season. Hopefully its progress has been steadfast, because in the following weeks it will come up against such scholarship-dangling powerhouses programs as CSU Long Beach, USC and Stanford, for which the Tritons will need to be at the height of their game to be successful and notch a few in the win column. The hard work and progression accomplished over the course of preseason practice and the added experience gained during last year’s championship run will undoubtedly facilitate the Tritons’ play this season. Coupled with the addition of the two big men, who will undoubtedly be integral in the team’s success, and the on court maturation of the players returning from the D-III championship squad, the Blue and Gold should be able to realize their preseason goals. Head on over to our very own state of the art RIMAC arena on Saturday night at 7 p.m. to see it all go down. ...

She's Simply the Best

The ending to Cindy Dostalek’s last game couldn’t have been more appropriate if it had been scripted by the most sentimental Hollywood hack. With 15 seconds left, fellow senior Christy Abizaid fed Dostalek the ball and she put it in the net to give the women’s soccer team the victory and its first-ever Division II national championship. Courtesy of UCSD Athletics However, that wasn’t the end of Dostalek’s fairy tale. The Triton star was recently named NCAA Division II’s Women’s Soccer Player of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Adidas. “”[The award was] very, very unexpected,”” Dostalek said. “”I didn’t even expect to be All-American. To be player of the year is pretty unbelievable.”” Her coach, Brian McManus, wasn’t as surprised. Courtesy of UCSD Athletics “”She really deserved it,”” McManus said. “”She’s been a virtual starter since freshman year and she gives a hundred percent every time she steps on the field. Seeing the two of them [Dostalek and Abizaid, the only two seniors on the team] after the goal was incredible, as was the look on their faces when they came off the field.”” For Dostalek, the long road began four years ago when she was recruited by McManus to play for UCSD. “”She sent me a letter,”” McManus said. “”And from her letter I could see her desire.”” He began to recruit Dostalek after that, and she decided to come to San Diego — although not without some reservations. “”I heard they were national champions and I was very intimated,”” Dostalek said. “”I just wanted to play soccer because I liked the sport and it was fun.”” In fact, Dostalek wasn’t even sure if she would make the team, so she set a furious pace on the field, one that hasn’t slowed in four years. “”Nothing is done at walking pace,”” McManus praised. “”Everything is a hundred miles per hour and flat out.”” In his opinion, it is the amount of effort and desire Dostalek possesses that sets her apart from other players. “”There’s very few players that have that kind of pace in any division,”” he said. “”The way she attacks everything — she makes everyone else play at a hundred percent.”” But perhaps the most telling characteristic of all is her pragmatic view of her soccer career. “”I’ve never loved playing the sport as much as I have the last four years,”” Dostalek said. “”Coming as far as I have, it’s really unbelievable to me. I never thought I’d be a part of three national championships.”” She attributes her success largely to her teammates, with whom she closely identifies, and especially to McManus. “”I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere if it wasn’t for Brian,”” Dostalek commented. “”He’s more than just a coach, he’s a friend too. He’s always there.”” Now Dostalek is faced with the difficult task of coming to terms with the end of her career. “”I think the hardest obstacle is finding a way to give it all up now and finding a way to move on,”” she said. “”[Soccer] became a part of my life. Everything I do and the people I’ve met are associated with the sport.”” Dostalek, who is ending her career ranked eighth on the all-time career scoring list, has no plans to play after college. She is currently working on finishing her major in political science and minor in communication. “”It’s hard to enjoy doing something if you don’t have such a great coach, and if you don’t have a team you enjoy playing with [like I did],”” she said. “”I’m going out with a really good memory. There comes a time when you’ve got to give it all up, and I’m just dealing with it.”” Considering the way Cindy Dostalek has handled adversity in the past, the present hurdle shouldn’t pose a problem. ...

Twice as Sweet

Division II? Piece of cake as far as the UCSD women’s soccer team is concerned. David Pilz Guardian Last month, the Tritons captured the 2000 Division II championship by defeating Northern Kentucky University 2-1 at Barry University in Miami Shores. With the score tied at 1-1, Triton senior Christy Abizaid passed the ball to teammate and fellow senior Cindy Dostalek. Dostalek took the ball and scored the winning goal with only 15 seconds remaining in regulation for the title. “”I saw Kristin (Jones) coming down the line and I said ‘this is it’,”” Dostalek said. “”The ball came across from Christy, and I just followed it through. After the goal, I looked up at the clock and it said 15 seconds and I could not believe it.”” The Tritons dominated the second half, attempting six corner kicks in five minutes. UCSD almost gave up the winning goal as the Norse’s Becky Schnieder launched a shot with 43 seconds left. Triton goalkeeper Kami Poma came up big with her second save of the day and set off the events that led to the winning goal. The first half was scoreless but not without championship-caliber excitement. UCSD almost took a 1-0 lead, but Laura Dooly’s header came just short, striking the crossbar. Northern Kentucky goalkeeper Lauren Piening was busy all day, making six saves. The second half looked frightening as the Norse took a 1-0 advantage at the 51:31 mark. Northern Kentucky’s Betsy Moore dribbled the ball up the field and passed the ball to teammate Tricia Ruark. Ruark passed it to Denise Kunz, who introduced the ball to the net. “”I felt we needed a goal against us to wake us up,”” said Triton head coach Brian McManus. “”I think today we deserved it. We’ve had games at times that we thought we may have stolen, but we deserved this one. We outplayed them.”” The Tritons quickly answered Northern Kentucky’s goal. At 66:15, Christine Wensel launched a corner kick to the far post. Dooly was there to greet the ball and rocked it into the net, tying the game at 1-1. Northern Kentucky was very impressed with UCSD. “”UC San Diego has a great team,”” said Northern Kentucky head coach Bob Sheehan. “”We were pleased with our effort, but a little disappointed with how we played. When you give up 16 corner kicks it’s tough to win. They just kept serving the ball into the box and taking their shots.”” The Tritons are no strangers to championships, having captured five trophies at the Division III level. This title was even more impressive, considering that this was the first year for UCSD at the Division II level. Accolades went all around for the Tritons. Dostalek earned the tournament’s Outstanding Offensive Player award and Kara Morris was named the Outstanding Defensive Player. Also making the all-tournament team were Elizabeth Hughes, Julia Cuder and Erika Alfredson. The road to the final was not an easy path. UCSD had to get by defending national champion Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire. The Tritons did just that, winning in overtime 2-1. Northern Kentucky knocked off host school and previously undefeated Barry University to reach the final. The Tritons finish the year with a 21-2 record. They have also won 17 straight matches, with their last lost coming back on Sept. 22 against California State Dominguez Hills. “”You can’t go out better than this,”” Abizaid said. “”The first half was the most fun I’ve had playing soccer. I really appreciate the chance my teammates gave me to go out this way.”” ...