After going 2-1, ULV gaining confidence

Campus Times
September 25, 1998


by Damien Alarcon
Staff Writer

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 more games.

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 last year.

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 team.

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.