The UC San Diego women's soccer team hits the ground running for 2013, welcoming in a pair of nationally-ranked West Region foes who each had their 2012 postseason runs cut short by the Tritons. UCSD takes on No. 21 Seattle Pacific on Thursday, Sept. 5, and No. 12 Western Washington on Saturday, Sept. 7. Kickoff for both contests is slated for 7 p.m. at Triton Soccer Stadium, with live stats available for fans unable to attend. Saturday's meeting with WWU follows the UCSD men's team's home opener against crosstown rival Point Loma at 4:30 p.m. All regular-season matches at Triton Soccer Stadium are free to attend.
UCSD faces a tough start to the 2013 season with six of its first 10 matches away from home, including each of the first four games to begin California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. The Tritons will, however, finish with seven of their final eight regular-season contests in La Jolla, beginning with a season-long six-match homestand, Oct. 11-27. Also in 2013, the two-year CCAA rotation has seen San Francisco State replaced by Chico State in the South Division, meaning a home-and-home set with the rival Wildcats.
NEW FACES ABOUND
Having lost 10 seniors to graduation from last season's CCAA and West Region champion and national runner-up squad, with seven of them starters, UCSD has 16 newcomers on the 2013 roster, including a remarkable total of 14 true freshmen. All but one of the 28 players are California natives, with sophomore back-up goalkeeper Itzel Gonzalez (Artesia HS) calling neighboring Tijuana, Mexico, home. The lone senior is fourth-year Triton midfielder Rachel Leslie. Leslie (Santee/West Hills HS) is also one of five San Diego products, alongside junior All-American Cassie Callahan (Coronado/Coronado HS), sophomore Maile Nilsson (San Diego/The Preuss School UCSD), and freshmen Maxia Espino (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) and Devon Roncorroni (San Diego/Bonita Vista HS).
UCSD is an unbeaten 12-0-1 in season openers in the Division II era, with only a scoreless draw at Western Washington in 2011 preventing a perfect ledger ... UCSD was 6-2-1 at home a season ago and played a school-record 10 overtime contests, going 5-1-4 ... Of the 45 goals UCSD tallied in 2012, 22 are back, namely Callahan's team-leading 10 (with a team-best eight assists) and fellow junior Izzy Pozurama's nine ... Kelcie Brodsky, a second-team All-West Region and All-CCAA selection who started all 24 matches as a freshman in 2012, is back in the Triton net ... Brodsky (0.60 GAA, nine shutouts) set a new single-season program record with 114 saves last year ... The fourth returning starter in addition to Brodsky, Callahan and Pozurama is redshirt sophomore Michelle Yasutake, who will be in the lineup at one of the three back-line positions ... UCSD was picked unanimously by CCAA head coaches in the annual preseason poll to repeat as the winner of the six-team South Division ... In addition to their No. 3 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) NCAA Division II preseason poll, the Tritons also boast a No. 3 BennettRank (No. 1 in West Region) ... The final rounds of the 2013 NCAA Championship return for the second straight year to Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga.
HEAD COACH BRIAN McMANUS
Brian McManus is in his 27th season in charge of the UCSD women's soccer program. With a career record of 434-67-42, he enters 2013 with the most wins in NCAA Division II women's soccer history. McManus has compiled the seventh-highest win percentage in NCAA women's soccer history at .838 through the 2012 campaign. He ranks fourth among all divisions in wins and is third in all-time win percentage in Division II history. McManus has directed UCSD to seven national championships and a record eight CCAA crowns, with the Tritons advancing to the national semifinals an incredible 15 times in his 26 years. Under his guidance, UCSD has qualified for the NCAA postseason all 13 seasons during the Division III days and all but one of 13 years (2004) since the move up to Division II, including the last eight in succession.
No. 21 Seattle Pacific is coming off of a 2012 season in which it went 15-4-2 overall and 11-1-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). The Falcons will also take on Point Loma on their season-opening California trip, on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 7. They return 17 letterwinners, including all but one starter, from the 2012 squad, the only loss being All-American forward Megan Lindsey, who tallied her team's lone goal against UCSD. Strike partner Ali Martin, now a junior, is Seattle Pacific's leading returning point-scorer, having contributed 18 from six goals and six assists. SPU has qualified for 10 consecutive NCAA Division II Championship fields, all since 11th-year head coach Chuck Sekyra returned to his alma mater for the 2003 season.
UCSD holds a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series, with five of those meetings (3-2) coming in the NCAA Division II Championship. The Tritons are 2-0 against the Falcons in La Jolla, both in second-round games, including a 2-1 double-overtime victory last Nov. 10. Graduated winger Jessica Wi banged in the winner at 103:17 after a scrum inside the six-yard box following a UCSD corner kick. UCSD has beaten SPU three straight times since a 3-1 loss in Seattle, Wash., in 2008.
No. 12 Western Washington is located in Bellingham, Wash., and like SPU, hails from the GNAC. The Vikings are off on Thursday and open the new season Saturday night at Triton Soccer Stadium. They went 19-4 overall in 2012 and 12-2 in GNAC play, earning the league's regular-season and tournament titles. WWU returns 17 letterwinners from that side, nine of them starters. That group includes Catherine Miles (9 G, 7 A), the 2012 GNAC Freshman of the Year who scored the 29th-minute equalizer against the Tritons in their postseason meeting. Also back are senior All-Americans Brina Sych (5 G, 5 A) and Kristin Maris (9 G, 6 A). Travis Connell, the 2012 NSCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year, is in his 11th season at the helm.
UCSD is an undefeated 5-0-1 all-time against WWU. The then-23rd-ranked Vikings were edged, also 2-1, by UCSD in the NCAA Division II West Region final in Denver, Colo., last Nov. 16. Triton goals came from current assistant coach Ellen Wilson in the first half and fellow senior Gabi Hernandez 51 seconds into the first overtime period, completing a sequence started by Pozurama. WWU in fact has not scored in three prior trips to La Jolla, resulting in Triton triumphs of 1-0 (2001), 4-0 (2006) and 5-0 (2009).
Triton Athletics is excited about its partnership with Advanced-Online, which provides a web-based, on-demand option for UCSD apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours. Visit the site at UCSDTritonsGear.com.
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Following this opening weekend to the 2013 season, UCSD embarks on a four-match road stretch to begin the 2013 CCAA slate. The Tritons travel to take on Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 13 (4:30 p.m.) and Cal State L.A. on Sunday, Sept. 15 (2 p.m.).