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UCI women’s soccer picked to finish fifth

August 12, 2008

The UC Irvine women’s soccer team proved the pundits wrong last season and will hope to do so again, after being picked to finish fifth in the nine-team Big West Conference in the coaches’ preseason poll released Tuesday.

UCI, which finished tied for third in the Big West after being picked to finish last in 2007, received 40 points in this year’s poll. UC Santa Barbara (74 points), two-time defending regular-season champion Long Beach State (73), as well as 2007 conference tournament finalists Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (62) and Cal State Fullerton (60) are expected to finish ahead of the Anteaters.

Pacific (30 points), Cal State Northridge (26), UC Riverside (25) and UC Davis (15), respectively, round out the poll.

UCI, under second-year coach Scott Juniper, was 11-7-2, 5-2-1 in conference, last season. The 11 wins nearly equaled the program’s combined total of the previous three seasons, in which it was 12-39-5.

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The Anteaters return 15 letterwinners, including junior Kate Berrini and sophomore Tanya Taylor, both of whom tied for the team lead with five goals last season. Berrini, Taylor, as well as fellow returners senior Kathleen Lemieux and sophomore Nikki Forrest all received honorable mention in all-conference voting.

Also among the seven UCI starters are sophomore goalkeeper Danielle de Seriere (nine shutouts and an 0.64 goals-against average) and sophomore Caty Cope, (a school-record 10 assists).

The Anteaters play host to Cal State San Bernardino, a Division II school, in an exhibition game Monday at 7 p.m. at Anteater Stadium. UCI is scheduled to open its regular season Aug. 24 at home against UNLV at 7 p.m.

UCI opens conference play Oct. 3 at home against Pacific.

UCSB received four first-place votes and Long Beach State received three. The Gauchos are bolstered by several returners and heralded transfers, while the 49ers return 10 starters and 21 letterwinners.

Cal Poly, which received two first-place votes, will for the first time in four seasons be without former Costa Mesa High star Sharon Day, who is representing the United States as a high jumper in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Cal State Fullerton won the conference tournament last season, which allowed it to make its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

— Barry Faulkner


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