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Women's Soccer: 'Eaters change dynamic

After missing NCAA tournament and finishing fourth in Big West, UCI shaking things up.

August 13, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • Zoyah Farzeneh, a senior tri-captain at UC Irvine, will help the Anteaters attempt to regain Big West Conference supremacy in 2013.
Zoyah Farzeneh, a senior tri-captain at UC Irvine, will… (Kevin Chang )

The UC Irvine women's soccer team lost just one conference game last season and has lost only two in the last three years. But last year's 5-1-3 Big West Conference record was good for only fourth place for the then-two-time-defending conference champions, who were 9-8-4 overall and missed out on an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in three seasons.

So, never afraid of new concepts, sixth-year coach Scott Juniper has shaken the program's emotional tree in order to try to maximize success. In addition, Juniper and his staff are intent on being more diverse in terms of formations as the Anteaters try to regain an edge after playing seven of their eight overtime matches against conference foes last season.

UCI was 2-1-4 in those conference overtime clashes, including a season-ending defeat in penalty kicks against Cal State Fullerton in the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament.

"The Big West was so close last year," said Juniper, whose squad plays host to Texas A&M (ranked No. 12 in the preseason) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in an exhibition game. "We don't want to become too predictable and be a team that everybody can predict what shape we're going to be in. By the time conference play starts, we want to be able to play in different ways. We have many coaches in this conference who have been around and have developed their programs with a very specific personality. We want to break out of that personality when we need to."

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That personality will also be shaped with the aid of "The Chimp Paradox" a method used by consultant psychiatrist Dr. Steve Peters to help the British cycling team win eight gold medals at the London Olympics in 2012.

"The concept of the inner chimp is making its way across the Atlantic," said Juniper, who explained that the "inner chimp" is the crazy, emotional side of the brain responsible for unwanted behaviors that sabotage one's desire to be good.

"We're learning how to make friends with and manage that chimp, and when it's necessary, put it back in the box," Juniper said.

Another emphasis will be the suppression of individual egos for the good of the team, Juniper said.

"This team feels like one team more than any we've had," he said. "We don't have much of a hierarchy in terms of egos in the locker room. Everything we do is going to be for the greater good and for team goals.

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