UCSD Looking Strong Despite Loss of Seniors

    The Tritons graduated eight players going into the 2012 season, including three All-Americans, top goal scorer Sarah McTigue and goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong, one of the most successful netminders in UCSD history. These players were the core that propelled the Tritons into the NCAA Championship title match in 2010, and the group that the program has been built on for the past three seasons.

    “Last year’s seniors were an exceptional group of players,” UCSD Head Coach Brian McManus said. “But we have a strong group coming in, and I think that with that many key players having graduated it has forced others to step up.”

    Last year, UCSD went 13-3-4 overall, coming up short in the CCAA semifinals and falling to CSU Chico in the second round of the National Tournament.

    Despite the changes UCSD has seen on the pitch, the Tritons will start this season at the top of the preseason California Collegiate Athletics Association poll, where the Tritons were picked to finish first in the CCAA South Division. UCSD began the season ranked No. 18 nationally, but has since risen to claim the No. 9 spot, as the Tritons (6-0) have yet to concede a loss.

    “The goal is always the NCAA Tournament,” McManus said. “We thrive under the pressure of being picked to win the conference, and I think we have the players to do just that.”

    This season the Tritons rely heavily on their senior class — six players who have made three trips to the NCAA Championships and have seen three CCAA championship tournaments. Co-captains Hayley Johnson and Ellen Wilson — both two-time CCAA first team selections — anchor the Triton backline along with senior transfer Cassie Callahan.

    Striking for the Tritons are juniors Izzy Pozurama and Laura Gordon. The pair are flanked by wingers Alexa Enlow and Jessica Wi in the attack. Senior Danielle Dixon will be back in the midfield alongside 2011 CCAA Newcomer of the Year winner Cassie Callahan. Assistant coach Kristin Jones, says the 2012 squad may lack the marquee players characteristic of teams past, but their ability to play together will make them dangerous nonetheless.

    “I think we’re always competitive in the CCAA because we play a different brand of soccer,” Jones said. “We’re not like a lot of other teams in the conference who depend on goal-scoring from one or two players. We have so many different players capable of generating offense that we’re dangerous from all over the field.”

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