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.

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