Tritons lose experience and talent in seven graduating athletes

    A class of seniors that has been together through three national championship victories, a move up to Division II and the rewriting of the National Collegiate Athletic Association record books will graduate from the UCSD women’s soccer program this year.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Seniors Laura Dooly, Jessica Cordova, Elizabeth Hughes, Julia Cuder, Kara Morris and Nikki Richards won their first national championship as sophomores when Alfredson scored the lone goals in 1-0 national semi-final and final victories. After tasting triumph, the Triton seniors hungered for more, and even a move from Division III to Division II their junior year couldn’t slow this group down. In 2000, UCSD made history with a dramatic 2-1 victory in the national championship game against Northern Kentucky University, becoming the first team in NCAA history to win a championship the year after moving up a division.

    This season, the Tritons once again brought home a national title, this time toppling Christian Brothers University, the most prolific scoring team in NCAA history, 2-0 in stunning fashion.

    “”Last year, it was a big achievement coming up to Division II and winning,”” said head coach Brian McManus. “”Last year was a big surprise, but this year everyone was coming after us.””

    However, no matter how many times they kept coming, the Triton defense turned them away, led by 2001 California Collegiate Athletic Association MVP Cuder.

    After watching her anchor a defense that surrendered only ten goals last season, McManus speaks highly of Cuder.

    “”She’s a Division I player,”” he said. “”Most of our seniors are.””

    To prove McManus’ point, Cordova turned in perhaps the most incredible individual match in UCSD history in the 2001 championship game. Cordova was asked to mark Missy Gregg, a Division I Pre-Season All-American who came to Division II and annihilated the opposition, averaging 3.5 goals per game and scoring more goals in total than the entire Triton team. Accolades aside, when the defining game came, Cordova marked Gregg out of the match and paved the way for a Triton victory.

    Without goals, however, there can be no victory, and the always-steady Hughes scored the biggest of her nine UCSD goals in the final match of her career. Adding 14 assists over her four years, she helped solidify a strong Triton midfield.

    A fellow Gunn High School graduate, Alfredson was the recipient of many feeds from that midfield, and when she received the ball, she knew what to do with it. Tallying 38 goals over four years, Alfredson led the team in scoring both her junior and senior years.

    From her outside midfield spot, Dooly provided plenty of offense, also scoring 28 goals in her strong career. With a penchant for explosive play, Dooly kept defenses off balance and gave UCSD a strong option out on the wing.

    Interestingly, the senior that defines this class in McManus’ mind is not one of the obvious stars, but rather the unsung heroine, Richards.

    “”She didn’t start some games, didn’t play a lot, but she was always there at practice, never moaned or complained and had a fantastic attitude,”” McManus said. “”You’ve got to have a lot of respect for somebody like that.””

    Closing out the UCSD senior class is Morris, a defender who saw her playing time limited during her senior season but who was one of only three Tritons to start every game her junior year. She is part of an incredible and elite group that can boast three national championship rings.

    “”We’ve always gone into seasons just to see how well we can do,”” McManus said. “”We never set ourselves targets until the end. Every year, we’re the bottom rung and we just want to see how many rungs we can climb until the season finishes.””

    Having climbed to the very top and admired the view three times, Triton seniors Dooly, Cordova, Hughes, Cuder, Alfredson and Morris will now move on to life beyond UCSD and will hope to enjoy the same view.

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