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Fontein keeps believing

Men's Soccer

UC Irvine goalkeeper has worked hard to produce a career full of personal, team achievement.

November 17, 2011|By Barry Faulkner
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

Andrew Fontein is close to earning a degree in business economics at UC Irvine. But it is on the soccer field where he has learned best the lessons regarding a return on one's investment.

The Las Vegas native was hardly a commodity when he came to UCI as a freshman walk-on, having secured a Big West home as a backup plan after enrolling at Villanova fell through.

But blessed with a confidence that knows no conscience, he trusted that talent and determination would help him shovel out from under his subterranian status on the depth chart.

"He was going to go someplace else," UCI Coach George Kuntz recalled. "But when he decided to come here, I told him we already have four keepers and he'd be the fifth. I told him he was probably going to redshirt."

It didn't take long for Fontein to adjust that scenario.

"He came in and started beating out three other guys to become our No. 2 guy in the preseason," Kuntz said. "Before long, our No. 1 guy gets hurt. He steps in, earns a scholarship and, from that point on, he has had an amazing career."

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Indeed, Fontein and unprecedented success at UCI may rival the age-old conundrum about the chicken and the egg.

In four seasons, Fontein has helped the Anteaters make the program's first three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including this season when they will play host to a second-round match on Sunday at 6 p.m.

Fontein has also been in goal for Big West Tournament title-game victories in 2008, 2009 and 2011 and he helped the program win conference regular-season titles in 2008 and 2011. He owns school career records for wins (50) and shutouts (29) and school single-season marks for wins (16 this season), goals-against average (0.59 in 2010) and shutouts (11 in 2010).

This season's Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, he was the Big West Tournament MVP as a freshman, when he made several freshman All-American teams. In addition to his first-team all-conference recognition this season, he was twice a second-team all-conference choice and he shared Big West Freshman of the Year honors in 2008, when the team made its only trip to the NCAA Sweet 16.

"He has won so many things for this program, and that all speaks to his consistency, which is what you want out of a goalkeeper," Kuntz said. "I challenge anyone to find a better goalkeeper in the West."

Fontein would not shy away from agreeing with his coach, but anyone who knows the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder would never mistake self-assuredness for a boundless ego.

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