Fall Preview

    September is halfway over, but the women’s soccer team has only begun to stretch their legs. As one of the top programs at UCSD, the team enters their 2010 campaign with high expectations and even higher hopes.

    Head Coach Brian McManus, who clocks in as one of UCSD’s most successful coaches with two NCAA division-II and five division-III national championships under his belt, enters his 24th season with virtually the same squad as last year. The Tritons return all 11 starters, 10 of whom were freshmen or sophomores last season. Despite the youthful squad, McManus’ side had a successful campaign that ended in a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss in the NCAA Division-II Regional Qualifiers on November 20, 2009.

    With their success last season and the amount of returning talent, the Tritons were the conference coaches’ preseason pick to win this year’s CCAA crown. UCSD also gained respect nationally, garnering the No. 20 slot in the preseason division-II rankings.

    Players to watch include junior midfielder Shelby Wong, who finished last season with six goals and five assists, and junior midfielder Anne Wethe, who will look to make even more of an impact after ending last season with 14 points.

    Despite the squad’s many returning players, the Tritons are not without newcomers. The most surprising is undoubtedly senior Annette Ilg, who — after exhausting her four years of eligibility on the basketball team — made the switch to McManus’ squad. With three goals already this season, Ilg seems to have made the transition smoothly.

    “The addition of Annette brings a senior’s sense of the UCSD sports program,” McManus said. “She also brings us some height and speed, and tenacity to chase down every ball.”

    UCSD began the season with exhibition matches against Dominican University and Notre Dame de Namur. The Tritons easily dispatched both opponents, winning by a combined score of 8–0. Ilg was awarded CCAA Player of the Week for her part in the games.

    The Tritons rose to sixth in the national rankings following the wins, but faced a tricky league opener against No. 23 Cal State Los Angeles on Sept. 10. The first half went scoreless for both sides, but the Golden Eagles came out strong in the second half with three goals in 30 minutes. Sophomore Alyssa Newcomer added a late goal, but it was not enough, as the Tritons fell, 1–3.

    Two days later, the Tritons bounced back with a dominating 3–0 victory over No. 9 Cal State Dominguez Hills, but they faced another test with their first road game at Humboldt State. On Sep.17, two second-half goals allowed the Lumberjacks to rally for a surprise 2–1 victory. UCSD fell to No. 25 in the rankings after the losses.

    Coach McManus, however, chose not to dwell on the losses, and instead focused on the positives of his team.

    “There is no one area where we are particularly strong,” McManus said. “The big thing with the team is if one player is having a bad day, that player makes sure the opposing player she is playing against has a bad day. … It is a close team and everybody wants to play for each other.”

    The Tritons will travel to face Cal State Monterey Bay on Sept. 24 and San Francisco State on Sept. 26. Their next home game is scheduled for Oct. 1, with a match against Cal State San Bernardino.

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