UCSD Finds a Home

    Like Captain James T. Kirk did on television 35 years ago, the UCSD Athletic Department went off on a voyage into the unknown, visiting strange new worlds. And like those on the Starship Enterprise who boldly went where no man had ever gone before, the Triton athletic teams also attacked their new mission with daring.

    David Pilz

    One more similarity between UCSD athletes to Captain Kirk: They both kicked major ass.

    This was the first year that UCSD participated at the Division II level. Boy, did it enter the dance in style.

    UCSD was in uncharted territory, but the athletic teams paid no mind, dominating the rest of Division II.

    Lyon Liew

    In November the UCSD women’s soccer team won the Division II National Championship.

    The swim team boasted three national champions: Jennifer Watanabe, Sandra Lopez and the 400-meter medley relay team.

    The men’s soccer team narrowly came up short for the California Collegiate Athletic Conference crown but still made the playoffs.

    The softball team had a tremendous year, barely missing the conference title and the playoffs with a 34-17 record.

    Track and field sent six competitors to Division II nationals.

    Both tennis teams made the playoffs, as did the women’s volleyball team with a 21-10 record.

    The list of accomplishments goes on and on.

    “”It’s been great,”” said Duncan McFarland, head coach of the women’s volleyball team. “”It’s very challenging. I enjoy the level of play.””

    The Tritons had great success in their 20 years at the Division III level, winning over 30 national titles in various sports. This year the school was a new kid on the block, and it brought the right stuff.

    “”Every game gave us a challenge,”” said Cindy Dostalek, a senior on the women’s soccer team. “”Each game we won was more of an accomplishment. Every game that we played in Division II compared to Division III playoffs.””

    Many of the Triton teams had experience facing top Division III schools, so playing an average Division II program wasn’t intimidating.

    “”Once we got into the playoffs in Division III, it was comparable to Division II,”” said McFarland, whose team frequently went deep into the Division III playoffs in previous years. “”I felt we were already able to be competitive.””

    Along with the move to Division II came a move to the California Collegiate Athletic Association. UCSD had never been a part of a conference before this year, opting to be independent. The CCAA is considered the toughest Division II conference in the country.

    “”We tried to put a lot more effort into recruiting,”” McFarland said. “”Trying to get bigger, better athletes.””

    Two benefits of being part of a conference is that a team already has set rivals and that a team’s schedule, for the most part, is already determined. Independent schools must fill in their schedules the best they can.

    “”It means I don’t have to spend two months forming a schedule,”” McFarland said. “”As an independent, you have to wait for [opponents] to form their conference schedule.””

    Athletes and coaches still performed at their top level.

    “”We basically played our game like we always do,”” Dostalek said. “”We kept with what worked for us.””

    For UCSD to continue its success, it needs to keep some things intact while also improving on others.

    “”Just keep UCSD like it is,”” Dostalek said. “”Everyone is really close and involved in the athletic community.””

    The athletic department must grow with along with the school to assure long-term success.

    “”We need to try to keep the department strong,”” McFarland said. “”Money will be a critical issue. Kids who are interested in athletics and UCSD are fairly well-read. The athletes we need respond to a challenge. We need to keep up the image of the department.””

    The year was extremely successful, and it is hoped that the Tritons will repeat that success for years to come.

    “”It was very positive for us,”” McFarland said. “”All of the teams did a great job.””

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