By Jessica Olvera, Assistant Sports Editor
Three athletic teams kicked off their season at the beginning of the fall semester. Women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, and men’s soccer are currently two weeks into their 2019 season. Here are previews on each team that talk about their offseason moves that helped them gear up for another season in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Their current record and next matchups are listed at the end of each respective sport.
Volleyball Seeks to Return to Winning Ways
Heading into her ninth year as head coach of the CSUDH volleyball team, Jennifer Adeva looks to lean on her experienced returners and eager newcomers to help bring the program back toward the winning side of the court.
The team finished with a 9-16 record last year and have only reached the .500 mark four times since 1984, but seek to use combined player assistance and experienced maturity to improve on both defense and offense for the upcoming season.
“I feel like we are a better team this year,” Adeva said. “I feel we are pretty physical this year and my expectations are that we are going to be a better defensive and offensive team in general from last year. The new players coming in are a really nice group of young ladies, really competitive and very mature from my experience here.”
Although the team faces key departures in Cathryn Lopez, who finished her career holding CSUDH’s all-time dig record with 1,381, and two-time All-CCAA second-team selection Tati Yandall, who decided to forego this season to focus on academic success, Adeva believes that they are going to reach new expectations for the program.
“Our first contact is going to be pretty good,” Adeva said. “Being able to get the ball to the setters and the setters set the offense like a quarterback. I think our offense will be pretty good as a result of that.”
Adeva mentioned that the team’s goal is “vying” for postseason play and that they are trying to make improvements consistently.
The Toros were predicted to finish sixth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association) annual coaches preseason poll for the South Division.
“The south is brutal,” Adeva said. “It’s very good. You got Cal State San Bernardino, Cal State LA who is nationally ranked, and Cal State Poly Pomona who went to the NCAA tournament, and then you have UC San Diego that’s going Division I next year.”
However, the preseason poll did not bother Adeva.
“We got picked sixth, we didn’t finish well last year and that’s where we’re at,” Adeva said. “To me, that doesn’t define us and certainly doesn’t define the team. It’s what we’re doing in the gym right now. To us, it’s one team at a time.”
Adeva mentioned that the team is there to compete and that the preseason predicted finish does not phase the program.
If the early season is any indication, the Toros are greatly improved. They dominated the Toro Classic opening weekend, not dropping a set while cruising to three 3-0 victories.
The Toros are now 7-0 as they beat Concordia (Oregon) 3-2, Humboldt State 3-1, Fresno Pacific 3-2, and Dominican 3-0 in the D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase this past weekend. This is the best start in the program’s history.
They open up conference play against cross-town rival Cal State LA this coming weekend on the road before traveling up north to face Cal State Monterrey Bay.
The next home match is not until Tuesday Oct. 1, where the Toros will face UC San Diego in a conference matchup.
Women’s Soccer Looking to Score a Winning Season
Heading into the second year of his second stint as women’s soccer coach at CSUDH, Marine Cano is seeking a more “aggressive approach” to help guide the program back into the win column for the upcoming season.
The team finished with a 3-10-4 record last year, with adjustments being made from both the players and Cano through his arrival and coaching style.
“My style is a funny recipe in the first year. I’ve had a year now and recruited my type of players,” said Cano, who helped lead the program to its only national title in 1991.
Cano mentioned that speed is required to be in the top six of the conference, along with recruiting players who were exposed to playing with a high level of intensity from their youth clubs.
“We are a young team but no excuses,” Cano said. “We feel that we can win games, whatever the number may be to get into the top six of this conference so we can go into the playoffs. And that is how we have to think.”
The Toros were predicted to finish 13th in the California Collegiate Athletic Association preseason coaches poll for this season.
“I think that it is highly motivating and disrespectful, and that’s good,” Cano said. “We are going to go after people and disprove that ranking.”
The team returns key players in two-time All-CCAA honoree Ruth Maria-Soto, Sofia Litendahl who logged over 1,562 minutes last season, and Vanessa Campos who started 16 games as a freshman while logging over 1,468 minutes.
Cano said he intends for the whole team to be “defensively sound” compared to last year to create the chances to score and win games.
“It’s all about scoring goals,” Cano said. “We can defend, I know we can, we’ll see. Every year is new but my prediction is that we’re going to defend. But the transition to scoring, we have got to do that.”
Cano mentioned that “toughness and aggression” are key in comparison to the other teams in the top four spots of the conference.
“I am hoping as a coach, with this lineup, that we might be too aggressive,” Cano said. “And I want that. I’m excited. My job is to turn it around right away, none of this ‘patient’ stuff.”
The Toros opened their season at home against Azusa Pacific on Thursday, Sept. 5, but were defeated by a score of 3-1. The Toros found themselves down 3-1 again but battled back late in the second half to force a 3-3 double overtime tie Sept. 9 against Montana State Billings.
This past weekend the Toros nabbed their first win of the season in front of the home crowd against Fresno Pacific. A goal in double overtime was the difference-maker for the Toros as they emerged victorious by a score of 1-0.
Currently at 1-1-1, the Toros will travel up north as they face Concordia (Oregon) on the road Thursday night and Western Oregon on Saturday morning.
The next home match for the Toros will be the first conference matchup of the season, a matchup against Chico State on Friday Sept. 27.
New Men’s Soccer Coach Leads to New Expectations
The CSUDH’s men’s soccer team will have a set of different faces to their coaching lineup for the upcoming season with the new arrival of head coach Eddie Soto, along with his four assistant coaches.
Soto arrives with over 20 years of coaching experience, 18 in NCAA Division I, including the last five as head coach of the University of San Francisco.
Since arriving to the program at the beginning of April, Soto mentioned that the transition to CSUDH has been “good” and that Southern California is a hotbed for soccer, along with the talent produced.
“A lot of the technical players that were here and some of the kids that we brought in have really come in sharp and ready to compete and to restore the program’s history,” Soto said.
In the past, the program has had its fair share of successes under former head coach Joe Flanagan, who helped guide the men’s team to two NCAA national championships in 2000 and 2008.
Soto inherits the task of guiding a team to its former glory after finishing last season with a 4-13-1 record while being predicted this year to finish seventh in the California Collegiate Athletic Association preseason coaches poll.
“It’s going to take some time for us to rebuild this program,” Soto said. “What Joe Flanagan did for over 20 years here was something special. He was a phenomenal coach and had a lot of success that developed a lot of winning teams. That takes time.”
Soto is looking at long-term success, saying that the soccer team is in a “rebuilding phase” and looking for players to change the culture to help aid in restoring what the program needs and deserves.
“Over time I think we’re going to get ourselves back where we want to and that is to be one of the top CCAA teams,” Soto said. “I don’t look at it as in ‘hey we’re picked to finish seventh,’ it lets us focus on improving every day and getting better and with that results will come. Let’s focus on the small details and the bigger things will come.”
The team returns key players in seniors Julian Tafolla-Cisneros and team captain Austin De Medeiros, along with forward Joshua Varon.
“These are the guys we’re going to depend on but also to go with our main objective which is to create an atmosphere that is very competitive,” Soto said. “Whether you are a freshman or senior, the best players will play.”
Soto mentioned that his coaching philosophy is based upon an environment that is both competitive and rewarding, while also expecting young players, regardless of their class ranking, to make an immediate impact.
The Toros dropped their first two games of the season, losing 4-0 to No. 11 Azusa Pacific Sept. 5, a perennial DII powerhouse, and 2-1 to Point Loma Sept. 7, both at home.
The team traveled to Washington for their next two games, where they lost to No. 23 Simon Fraser 2-1 Sept. 12 in overtime, and grabbed their first win of the season against Saint Martin’s by a score of 1-0 Sept. 14.
Sitting at 1-3, the Toros will visit Biola University on Wednesday evening to face the Eagles. The next home match for them will be on Sept. 27 against Chico State, the first conference matchup of the season.