After going 2-1, ULV gaining confidence
September 25, 1998
One may think that after finishing last season with an overall record
of 4-14, the men's soccer team would enter this season with one goal-win
But after a rigorous, productive preseason and a 2-1 showing in the
Concordia Tournament, ULV is more confident and is reaching for even higher
goals other than breaking the .500 mark, which before did not seem likely.
How about a conference championship? It is quite possible, but it will
be tough. Luckily, it will not be as difficult as last year. Although the
players know conference has not yet begun, many feel that they have what
is needed to be a worthy contender in the Southern California Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
"We are more talented than last year and our work ethic is far
superior, too," said sophomore forward Aaron Rodriguez. "We also
have a lot of depth on the bench."
The team is returning nine to its 24-man roster. Leading the bunch who
are expected to have outstanding season performances are the captains: juniors
Jorge Macias and Mike Campopiano and freshman Clint Brooks. Sophomore Roberto
Ortega was expected to have a big year but did not return to ULV.
To produce a successful team, for any sport, vital necessities are key.
The Leopards believe they have those vital necessities they did not have
Senior defender Rudy Gutierrez said, "Unlike last year, we are
committed, disciplined and focused. Honestly, last year we had none of these."
Mike Collins, in his third year as head coach, is assisted by coaches
Cres Gonzalez and a new addition to the staff, Derrick Kerr. Kerr, a teacher
at Damien High School, helps mostly, along with Gonzalez, in preparing most
of the conditioning exercises for the team.
Even though the team did not have a successful year previously, Gonzalez
said, "There will not be any changes to the practices or the program.
What will help us a lot is that we had a great year with recruitment."
Although the team will only be returning four starters, Collins has
no reason to worry, since he is stocked with a load of talent. Aside from
the captains, Collins will also be relying on junior midfielder Ryan Graham
and freshman forward Remy Rodriguez to bring a huge contribution to the
The squad finished 2-1, good enough for second place at the Concordia
Tournament, which was held Sept. 10-12 in Irvine. They won two-of-three
games, having beat Concordia, 4-1, in the first round.
The second game came to a close but bitter end, as the team lost, 2-1,
against International University. The last goal was scored in the final
few minutes of the game.
The final match of the tournament was a victory for the Leopards, as
they defeated SCIAC rivals, Whittier, 2-1.
ULV hosts Christian Heritage Wednesday at 6 p.m. before playing Occidental
at 3 p.m. Saturday.