50 Years Strong

50 Years Strong

As UC Irvine celebrates its 50th Anniversary, UCI Athletics takes a look back at the most memorable teams and moments of the first 50 years.

Women’s Soccer, 2010

For the first time in program history, UC Irvine women’s soccer made its way on to the national stage with an at-large spot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. A stellar season was one for the record books that saw the Anteaters post a 19-3-2 record, the most victories in program history.

Led by head coach, Scott Juniper, the team became the first Big West school to go undefeated in conference play with a 8-0-0 mark and earned its first Big West regular season title. This feat could not have been managed were it not for senior goalkeeper, Danielle de Seriere, whose 11 shutouts tied a Big West season record and the program’s first two All-Americans, junior CoCo Goodson on defense and senior Tanya Taylor on offense.

The differences between a good 2009 season and a great 2010 season had a lot to do with overtime play de Seriere remembered. “We had big learning experiences. In 2009 we struggled in OT and in 2010 we started to fight and we weren’t going to settle for losing in overtime.” 

The squad headed into the Big West Tournament seeded first, but lost 1-0 in the Big West Tournament final to Long Beach State. With the incredible season as evidence, the team earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Championship and home field advantage in the first round facing off against Arizona State at Anteater Stadium.

 “No alumni could give us advice. We had to learn together one game at a time, blazing a trail,” reflected Juniper about the program’s first time in the NCAA tournament.  

In front of a record breaking home crowd, of 1,254 fans the Anteaters defeated the Sun Devils 2-1 as Taylor scored the game-winning goal in the 74th minute. Sophomore Devon Delarosa scored the first two Anteaters goals in less than 2 ½ minutes during the second half.

“Tanya learned to lead every day, not just most days,” said Juniper in reference to his co-captain’s success.

The second round of the NCAA tournament included another game at Anteater Stadium this time against ACC Champion Wake Forest. UCI continued the hot-streak beating the Deamon Decons, 2-0.  

“We had nothing to lose against Wake Forest,” Juniper said. “They had just come from playing in colder weather and had to take three water breaks and we brought a quick tempo to the game.”

The Anteaters headed into the Sweet 16 to face Washington taking the game to double overtime before falling 1-0 to the Huskies in the 104th minute.

The Anteaters, who won 16 of their last 19 games, were ranked as high 11th nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) during the season.

Taylor, who was the Big West Offensive Player of the Year was a fourth-round pick by the Boston Breakers in the third annual Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) draft, held in Baltimore, MD.  She became the first UC Irvine women's soccer player to be drafted into the professional ranks of the WPS.

Goodson was named the Big West Defender of the Year and led the Big West with five game-winning goals, while de Seriere was honored as Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, topping the conference in goals-against average (0.69), shutouts (11), and shutouts per game (0.46).

Mar Rodriguez, Nikki Forrest and Judy Christopher also gained first-team All-Big West accolades.

UCI ended the year ranked 10th in the NCAA statistics in won-lost-tied percentage (.833), 25th in goals-against average (0.72) and 30th in scoring offense at 2.04 goals per game. 

Men’s Water Polo, 1989

After an impressive 27-6 overall regular season record and a shared Big West Conference title, the 1989 men’s water polo team captured the program’s third NCAA championship.

Led by head coach Ted Newland, in his 24th season, the Anteaters would face the two-time defending NCAA champion California in the final. The team was successful because of the sum of all of its parts, and that is how Coach Newland wanted it.

“Newland was conscientious in the type of players that went to UCI and how they performed,” starting goalkeeper Chris Duplanty said. “He was masterful in forming a team. We fit so well together. We were always confident in our ability which came from Newland. Confident not only in ourselves, but more importantly, in our team.” 

Dan Smoot, who was named NCAA Tournament MVP, also mused about Newland, “He ingrained in us a mental toughness that we could beat anybody, he was phenomenal at preparation and we always felt prepared.”

Heading into the 1989 season, expectations were high and included the goal of a national championship.  While the competition had teams stocked full of Olympians and super star athletes, Newland was confident in the squad he had put together that included All-Americans Duplanty, Smoot, Julian Harvey, and Tom Warde.

The team faced tough losses during the regular season that prepared them for the finals. Losing to Cal early in the regular season made the team work that much harder and determined to not let it happen again.

After the loss Duplanty remembered, “I went and worked out because I figured they were enjoying their victory. We’re going to win when it’s the national championship.”

The Anteaters faced Arkansas-Little Rock in the first round of the 21st NCAA Championships in Indianapolis that November, defeating them 13-6.  The semifinals would be more difficult as they faced traditional power house, Stanford.  Warde scored five goals with the fifth as the go-ahead goal with 3:27 remaining in the match.  Smoot’s goal with 2:40 left on the clock, proved to be important as Stanford scored with 38 seconds remaining, making the final score 8-7.

UC Irvine entered the showdown with the Bears 0-4 in the national championship title games. The team was looking forward to the game and the opportunity to face the defending champions. It took the effort of everyone on the team to defeat the Bears 9-8.

“We had the best goalie in the NCAA. Three of the goals came off counters because we knew Chris was there,” recalled Smoot in regards to Duplanty.

Smoot would go on to score five of the nine goals against Cal, including three straight in the fourth quarter.

“It was as you would expect a true team to look like. Each player significantly contributed to the team. Dan was ready and he delivered,” Duplanty said fondly of Smoot and the team.

Newland would go on to receive Coach of the Year for the fourth time. Warde and Duplanty were named to the All-Tournament first team and Smoot and Harvey were selected to the second team. Warde was honored as the National Player of the Year and Duplanty was given the Top Six Award by the NCAA.

Women's Cross Country, 1990

Led by former UCI cross country coach Vince O’Boyle, the 1990 Anteaters finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in Knoxville, TN, marking the program’s highest national finish.

The Anteaters finished first at the Cal Poly Invitational, second in the Stanford Invitational, first in the Big West Championships, second in the NCAA Region 8 meet on the way to the NCAA Championships.

The team consisted of seniors Buffy Rabbitt and Maggie Henson, both of which were high school teammates at Newport Harbor, juniors Maria Akraka, Sita Jones, Jade Preato, and Roberta Moronez, sophomore Rayna Cervantes and redshirt freshman Traci Goodrich.

In the seven years prior to the 1990 season, the Anteaters dominated the Big West, capturing six of the last seven conference titles. The 1990 team successfully defended their Big West title in Fresno in commanding fashion with seven UCI runners finishing in the top 10. Rabbitt won the meet with a time of 17:05.2, making it the eighth consecutive season in which the top runner was an Anteater.  Akraka was second (17:19.2), Cervantes finished third (17:27.3), Goodrich was fourth (17:29.9), Jones sixth (17:54.8), Moronez eighth (18:13.0), and Preato was finished 10th (18.21.1).

At the NCAA Championships, Rabbitt placed fourth (16:31) overall which was the best performance ever for a UCI runner. Akarka and Cervantes also had top 25 finishes to pace the Anteaters. Rabbitt, Akraka, and Cervantes each garnered All-Americans honors for their efforts.

Prior to the season, Rabbitt had already established herself as one of the nation’s top runners, but cemented that with an amazing senior year. .Along with capturing the individual title at the Big West Championships, Rabbitt won the NCAA Region 8 meet with a time of 16:44.6, which made her a back-to-back Region 8 champion. She was the women’s cross country Big West Athlete of the Year for the second time after placing first five times. She finished her cross country career with three All-American honors.

O’Boyle reflected on Rabbitt’s role as a leader of the team, saying, “Buffy had always been one of the top runners in the nation in both cross country and track. She learned to lead by example as an underclassman because she ran with another UCI great in Brigid Stirling. Buffy was a great friend and teammate. She always paid attention to the little details in her work and it was contagious to the younger core, such as Rayna and Traci.”

Of the eight runners on the team, only one was not from California, let alone a native of the United States.  Akraka hailed from Stockholm, Sweden and came to UCI after transferring from Iowa State.

“They all had talent. There’s no question about that,” O’Boyle remembered. “But what made them special was that they all got along and were able to be teammates. They became close friends and still remain close to this day. The older group would teach the younger group the sense of unity and family. To this day, I am so proud of that group.”

O’Boyle was named 1990 Big West Conference Coach of the Year, his seventh honor for the women’s team in his ninth year at UCI.

 

Men’s Soccer, 2008

Coming off a disappointing 2007 season where the ‘Eaters finished 6-9-5, the 2008 UCI’s men’s soccer team had one of the most successful seasons in program history. The club finished the regular season with a 12-1-6 record and went 5-1-4 in Big West action giving them the Big West regular-season championship. In the semifinals of the Big West Tournament, No. 1 seed UCI defeated No. 4 UC Davis 1-0 and then beat the No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara 4-2 to win the Inaugural Big West Tournament championship. In the championship, forward Amani Walker led the team in points scoring a goal and adding two assists, while Andrew Fontein, who was named tournament MVP, had nine saves in the title game. While the tournament win guaranteed a NCAA tournament berth, the ‘Eaters were selected as the No. 14 national seed for the tournament.

After a first round bye, UCI took a six-game win streak into the NCAA tournament against fellow Big West foe Cal Poly. The Anteaters won the game 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 2,500 at Anteater Stadium, the first ever sellout in Anteater Stadium history. UCI then headed to Queens, N.Y to take on St. Johns where they fell to the Red Storm 3-2 in the Sweet Sixteen. The Anteaters finished the season with a 15-2-6 record, which was then a program best. UCI’s 15 wins broke the previous record of 13 set in 2006 while also adding the longest winning streak in school history at seven. UCI finished with a No. 10 national ranking and with their best ever winning percentage of 78.3%, which was seventh best in the nation in 2008.

When asked what led to the success in 2008, Chris Volk, now head coach then an assistant coach for the Anteaters, mentioned many factors that came together at the perfect time. First, he mentioned the great senior leadership from seniors like Matt Murphy and David Sias. Second, the contributions from junior college transfers Irving Garcia and Carlos Aguilar and lastly, was the contribution of freshman goalkeeper Andrew Fontein.

“Fontein did not start the year as the starter but won the role because of his command and control of the box as well as his aggressiveness on the pitch,” Volk said. “Once the goalkeeper was in place all the pieces were there for the team to do something special.”

Walker, another young player who came on strong at the end of the year, had two goals and four assists in the last three games to ignite the offense. Walker ended the year fourth in points, goals and assists.

“I think it was the blend of experience and youth we had that came through that year. We had eager minds that wanted to prove themselves and older players showing the country why UCI should be a mainstay in the top 25. That made for competitive training sessions that transferred pretty well onto game day.”

Walker now plays for the OC Blues Soccer Club, who play their home games at Anteater Stadium. When asked how it feels to come back home Walker said “It's definitely a strange feeling coming back but comforting at the same time.”

Senior Matt Murphy finished the season with 30 points which is the second most by a UCI player in a single season. Murphy left UCI with records in points with 85, goals with 33 and game-winning goals with 11. Murphy is tied for third with 19 career assists. Murphy is 6th all-time in the Big West Conference with 33 goals and is fifth in career points (85) and game winning goals (11).

There were many accolades handed out that season including; David Sias who was named Big West Defensive Player of the Year, freshman Andrew Fontein was named Big West Co-Freshman of the Year, head coach George Kuntz was named Big West Coach of the Year and Chris Volk was named NSCAA/Adidas Assistant Coach of the Year, West Region. The Anteaters also had four players earn All-Big West first team honors; Matt Murphy, David Sias, Irving Garcia and Spencer Thompson. There were also four Anteaters to earn All-Big West second team honors; Rafael Macedo, Kyle Schmid, Shane Westbrook and freshman Andrew Fontein.

 

Sailing, 1988

Traditionally an east coast dominated sport, the 1988 UC Irvine sailing team prevailed claiming two national titles, their first since 1972. With much to prove to the sailing world, Jon Pinckney with crew Mike Sturman and Jackie Landsman along with teammates Nick Scandone, Jamie Malm and Scott Munch demonstrated that UC Irvine was a force to be reckoned with.

Pinckney, originally slated to go to an east coast college, fostered in the distinguished years of sailing at UC Irvine by attracting exceptional sailors, Jamie Malm and Nick Scardone, to the program. Pinckney would later go on to coach at UCI guiding the Anteaters to a national championship in 1990. Scandone would go on to win the gold medal in the Paralympics in 2008, after being diagnosed with ALS in 2002.

“I enjoyed going to UC Irvine and the satisfaction of taking a program from scratch and making it a dominant team,” observed Pinckney.

That dominant team would go on to win the national title by the largest margin of victory to date at the 1988 at the Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Association Championships in Richmond, CA. The three-day racing event started off with favorable flat waters and calm winds in the marina for the Anteaters, much like the conditions of their practices in Newport, and UC Irvine took a substantial lead. Unhappy about the tranquil conditions and deeming them slighted to west coast teams, the east coast teams were pleased when day two and three were moved to the outside of the marina into a harsher setting of the San Francisco bay. However, the increased winds and rougher waters of day-two only proved that the team was qualified as the UCI lead increased. On the third day, UC Irvine was tested with big winds and rough conditions, but Pinkney, Sturman and Landsman won the dinghy title taking first in Division “A” by a landslide with 135 points. UCI also took the team racing championship with a 10-1 record in match races.

“For me it was a lesson in leadership, we had to give respect to get respect. We built each other up,” recalled Pinckney.

The successful year bred four all-Americans; Pinckney, Scandone, Malm and Sturman; along with a Pacific Coast Championship title to go with the two national titles. It also garnered in a tradition of successful sailing teams at UC Irvine for a number of years. 

 

Men's Golf, 2001

After competing in the Big West Conference Tournament 23 times, the UC Irvine men’s golf team claimed the program’s first league championship in 2001 and earned the program its first automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament. 

Under the leadership of head coach Paul Smolinski, the 2001 Big West Champion Anteaters played well throughout the conference tournament at Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills, Calif.  The team finished with a 54-hole total of 859 strokes, leaving UC Santa Barbara and Pacific five shots behind. 

Sophomore Jeff Coburn finished second at 6-under 210, shooting a 5-under 67 over the final 18 holes to record the best round of the day.  Senior Eric Wang finished in fifth place at 1-under 215 and was followed by sophomore Ryan Armstrong, who placed 10th at 219. Adding to the balance were sophomore Mike Lavery and freshman Justin Ohye, who tied for 13th place at 221. 

To wrap up the conference tournament, Coburn was named to the All-Big West First Team, while Lavery and Armstrong were each named to the Second Team. 

“Playing a lot the previous year allowed the team to gel,” said Coach Smolinski. “They had a lot of experience coming into the season.” 

Despite the strong play in the conference tournament, the Anteaters were not satisfied.  Giving it their all, UCI shot 6-over par of 294 to finish the 54-hole NCAA West Regional with an 871 (7-over) total at Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis, Ore.  The team finished third, advancing to the NCAA Finals at Duke University Golf Club in Durham, N.C. 

The third place finish boosted the confidence of the team. 

“We only lost to two teams, “said Smolinski. “They weren’t afraid of other teams going into the national tournament.” 

The Anteaters looked to build off the momentum of the postseason entering the national championship.  However, battling against other top teams proved difficult.  After shooting 306 twice in a row, the team placed 29th after 36 holes with a 612 total.  Only the top 15 teams advanced to the next two rounds, with UCI missing the cut. After a strong effort, the historic season had come to a close. 

 It marked the Anteaters’ second trip to the NCAA Finals.  The 1992 UCI squad gained an at-large regional berth, finished eighth at the NCAA West Regional and advanced to the NCAA Finals at The Championship Golf Course at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, missing the cut.   

The 2001 Anteaters made history by being the first team in the program to win the Big West Tournament title and only the fourth UCI squad to appear in the NCAA Division I Tournament. Honored for his excellent leadership, Smolinski was named Big West Coach of the Year.  His team also gained a final national ranking of No. 46 in the MasterCard Collegiate poll.

 "They started believing in themselves,” Smolinski recalled. “They were much better after that experience.”



 

 

Men's Track and Field, 1978

UC Irvine started its first year of NCAA Division I competition exactly how they had hoped, as champions. The Anteaters led the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, later known as the Big West Conference. In its first season in the PCAA, track and field paved the way with not only a team championship, but two NCAA Division I individual champions.
   
Building upon their success from the previous season, senior runners Steve Scott (1,500 meter run) and Mauricio Bardales (decathlon),  looked to competing at the Division I level as a new challenge to conquer.
 
The Anteaters were determined and worked hard to make their entrance into the PCAA a memorable one. Freshman LaMonte King led UCI in the PCAA team championships with a season and lifetime best of 20.61 in the 200 meters, along with 26-10 ¼ in the long jump. This record was the best legal mark in the world at the time.
 

King’s triple victory (100 meters, 200 meters and long jump) was joined by Scott (1,500 meter run), Ed Ahlmeyer (3,000 meter steeplechase and 5,000 meter run), Ralph Serna (10,000 meter run), Judd Binley (discus throw), and Mauricio Bardales (decathlon), all whom were PCAA individual champions in their respective events.

 
With all of their success in the regular season, the team was predicted to place in the top ten at the NCAA Division I championships. The ‘Eaters entered nine athletes in individual events which included the 200,1,500 and 5,000 meter races, steeplechase, pole vault, discus throw, long jump,and relay teams in the 400 and 1600 meters.
 
The Anteater stepped up to the challenge and did not disappoint. Bardales and Scott went on to become UC Irvine’s first NCAA Division I individual champions, a feat that would not be broken for 34 years by another UCI athlete until Charles Jock in 2012.  In addition to the two individual champions, King placed in second in the long jump, which helped UCI place sixth in the NCAA meet.
 



 

Women's Tennis, 2007

The 2007 UC Irvine women’s tennis team could not wait any longer. It was over 30 years since the program’s beginning, and no other team before them had ever made it to the NCAA tournament. Until now. Coach Mike Edles was in his 11th season with the team, and it was time for the team to finally break through.
 
Going into the Big West Championship, the ‘Eaters were seeded No. 1 following an impressive undefeated season during regular conference play 6-0.  After defeating No. 8 seeded UC Riverside in the quarterfinals, the team made its sixth consecutive appearance in the semifinal round where the Anteaters were matched against No. 5 Cal Poly.
 
Things looked optimistic as the team took a 1-0 lead over the Mustangs after winning two of the three double matches early. Senior Jayme Hu and sophomore Ali Borowicz defeated Malec and Filip of Poly 8-4 in the No. 3 match, while junior Jessica Broadfoot and sophomore Heidi Kaloi, upset Brady and Bradford 9-8, after being down 7-1 in the No.2 match.
 
It was not until single match play that the players and Anteater fans began to feel the pressure put on by the Mustangs. After Cal Poly took a 2-1 lead, UCI battled back winning matches at No. 6 and No. 3, but Cal Poly won the final two matches, upsetting the Anteaters, 4-3.
 
With the hopes of competing in the championship gone, the Anteaters looked forward to another opportunity to play in the NCAA, through an at-large bid. The team’s debut into the NCAA tournament was also the first time in the 23-year history of the Big West Conference that a team had earned an at-large bid into the tournament.
 
Ranked at No. 34, UCI was set to face No. 30 Texas in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis championships. Having the opportunity to play on the national stage came with its difficulties as the Anteaters eventually fell 4-0 to Texas. Despite the loss, the team finished 21-5, the most wins in a season at the time.
 
“It was an incredible season.  We won so many close matches,” Coach Edles recalls. “We won thirteen matches 4-3 or 5-2. It was a thrill to go to the NCAA’s for the first time.”
 
The team was ranked as high as No. 28 in the nation, defeating ranked schools Long Beach State, Saint Mary’s, New Mexico, Yale, and Loyola Marymount throughout the year.
Bernhard was ranked as high as No. 81 nationally winning 12 matches at No. 1 singles.  She would win Big West Player of the Week six times that year, giving her nine career Player of the Week awards for her career, the most of any Big West women’s tennis player and UCI athlete in Big West history.

The team won 101 dual matches with four Anteaters (Kaloi, Broadfoot, Borowicz, Clare Fermin) each racking up 17 dual match wins.

After such a groundbreaking season, the team was rewarded for their hard earned success. Becky Bernhard was named to the All-Big West First Team Singles, along with Inna Agababian who was named to the All-Big West Second Team Singles. Both Clare Fermin and Jessica Broadfoot were listed as All-Big West Honorable Mentions for their single match play as well. In addition to awards in singles, Bernhard and Fermin were listed to the All-Big West First Team Doubles, along with Agababian and Broadfoot who were named to the Second Team.  Coach Edles was also awarded the Big West Coach of the Year for his successful guidance of the team.
 
 

Baseball, 2007

Five years after being reinstated, the UC Irvine baseball program made its debut appearance in the 2007 Division I College World Series taking the nation by surprise and showcasing the program’s dominance against other elite teams.
 
The Anteaters historic season saw the squad reach the 40-win plateau, finishing with an astounding 47-17-1 record and finishing in second place in the Big West regular season.
 
The team looked on to postseason with high expectations. The victories continued to come for the team who shutout Wake Forest 13-0, before defeating the No. 5 ranked Texas Longhorns twice for the Round Rock Regional title. Leading the team with seven hits, batting .467 with six runs scored and two stolen bases, Taylor Holiday was named the All- tournament Most Outstanding Player. Holiday was joined on the All-Tournament team with pitchers Scott Gorgen and Wes Etheridge, second baseman Cody Cipriano, catcher Aaron Lowenstein, and centerfielder Ollie Linton.  
 
Looking forward to more wins, the ‘Eaters went on to shock Wichita State in a best-of-three Super Regional series. After an arguable call in the Wichita State ninth that resulted in two Shocker runs to tie the game,  UC Irvine fans held their breath as Bryan Petersen stepped to the plate. In the bottom of the ninth, Petersen brought home the game winner after hitting a walk-off double to clinch the series. The win secured UCI’s place to play against the top eight teams in the country.
 
Set to face off against No. 3 Arizona State for their College World Series debut, the ‘Eaters took a hard loss, falling short 5-4. Determined for the season to continue, the squad fought hard against Cal State Fullerton in an elimination game. Playing a staggering 5 hours and 40 minutes against the Titans in the longest game in the 61-year history of the CWS, Petersen again supplied another walk-off hit in the bottom of the 13th inning to close the game with a 5-4 victory over the Titans.
 
With little time to rest, the Anteaters were given the opportunity for revenge as they were scheduled to play the Sun Devils the very next night. With over 29,000 spectators as witness, Litton delivered a bases-loaded single in the 10thinning for the team’s third walk-off hit of the season to send ASU home, winning the game 8-7. The victory gave UCI another stamp in the history books as the first team to win extra-inning games on consecutive days.
 
Playing in front of 29,921, the second largest crowd in CWS history, the ‘Eaters faced their biggest competition yet. Oregon State, who would go on to win the title, defeated UCI 7-1 as the Anteaters would leave Omaha with a 2-2 record. Impressed by his batting .538 in four games with eight hits, Petersen was named to the College World Series All-Tournament team.
 
With such a successful season, Irvine continued to claim multiple accolades. At the conclusion of the tournament, the ‘Eaters were ranked fourth by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, USA Today/ ESPN  and Rivals.com, the highest in the program’s history. UCI proudly had nine Anteaters named to the Easton Big West All-Conference teams. Cipriano, Gorgen and Holiday were named to the first team, while Etheridge, Linton, Ben Orloff and Tyler Vaughn were named to the second team. Lowenstein and Sean Madigan were recognized for their contributions and were listed as honorable mentions. In addition, Gorgen was named a third-team All-American by Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and earned second-team honors from Ping!.  Head coach Dave Serrano was named Baseball America’s 2007 National Coach of the Year.
 
A record eight Anteaters were drafted by Major League organizations, three were selected within the first 10 rounds. 


Men's basketball, 2015

 

For the first time in program history, the UC Irvine men’s basketball competed in the NCAA Tournament. Under the direction of head coach Russell Turner, the ‘Eaters won the 2015 Big West Tournament and received an automatic bid to the big dance.

 

The Anteaters were forced to make big adjustments throughout the season with three starters, including last season’s Big West’s “Best Defensive Player” center Mamadou Ndiaye, sitting a majority of the year with injuries.

 

“Each player has an important role on the team,” stated sophomore guard Jaron Martin. “You have to always be ready to step up no matter what.”

 

Unable to maintain a consistent starting five, the team fought to secure a high seed in the conference and finished in a tie for second and were the third seed in the Big West tournament.

 

After defeating UC Riverside, 63-54, the Anteaters faced rival UC Santa Barbara in a battle of the bigs for the semifinals. After falling to UCSB in their last meeting, UCI wanted to prove their strength and dominance. Coming out strong, the ‘Eater lead, 34-27, at the start of the second half. Yet as expected, the Gauchos did not go down easy. With UCI trailing 59-58 with 49 seconds to play, Ndiaye hit a free throw to send the game into overtime. Playing with four fouls much of the second half and throughout the extra period, Ndiaye’s defensive strength helped fuel the fire needed for the Anteaters to muscle past the Gauchos, 72-63.

 

The Anteaters would battle fifth-seeded Hawaii, who upset No. 1 seed UC Davis in the semis, in the Championship game. Having beat the Warriors twice in regular season, the Anteaters knew it would be tough to beat the same team three times.

 

“We knew they would be prepared for us,” stated Ndiaye, “but so were we.”

 

Trailing 33-29 at the half, the ‘Eaters left the locker room ready to give it their all. Fighting back and forth the remainder of the half, it was not until the last three minutes of the game that UCI began to pull away with the lead. Depending on their strong defense provided by senior forward Will Davis II and Ndiaye, the ‘Eaters saw their dream begin to form into reality. With six seconds left on the clock, before a crowd of 5,463 Davis ended the game with a highlight worthy dunk to end the game, 67-58.

 

With his seventh double-double of the season, Davis ended the night with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Averaging 15.0 points and 11.0 rebounds each night of the tourney, he was named the Big West Tournament MVP. Davis was the first in the tournament’s history to record three double-doubles in one run.

 

“It showed the amount of work I have put in,” Davis said. “It felt amazing to win, especially my senior year.”

 

In addition to Davis’ MVP award, sophomore guard Luke Nelson was named to the all-tournament team with his average of 15.0 points throughout the tournament.

 

After such a historical night, the Anteaters gathered for their first NCAA Selection Show which was attended by family, fans, donors and alumni. The crowded room erupted in cheers when the Anteaters were seeded No.13 in the Eastern region to face No. 4 Louisville in Seattle’s Key Arena.

 

Ready to make their NCAA Tournament debut, the team was determined to make their presence known. They were unfazed by the label of being the ‘underdog’, and took the big stage as an opportunity to show the world who they were, and make their program and school proud.

 

“The tourney is something we all grew up watching,” stated senior guard Travis Souza. “It was a great feeling, being the first UCI team to ever make it.”

 

In addition to fulfilling a childhood dream, Souza sent the UCI crowd into a frenzy early sinking a three-pointer just 36 seconds into the start of the game. Souza is the first Anteater in history to score in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Filled with pride, confidence, and drive, the team never looked inferior to the Cardinals. To the delight of Anteater fans worldwide and to the shock of all doubters, the team only trailed by two at halftime. With a quick jumper by Davis in the opening minute, the game was tied at 30 making the Cardinals uncomfortable.

 

Neither team was able to break away as the lead changes continued to shift throughout the half. With 43 seconds left in the game, the score was tied at 55 all. Hoping to shift the lead in UCI’s favor, Nelson fired a three pointer with 12 seconds left that was rebounded by Cardinal and fouled inadvertently. Louisville would make both free throws and had the luxury of fouls to give to run down the clock before putting UCI on the line. Unable to get a final shot off to tie the game, the historic season for the Anteaters had come to a heartbreaking close.

 

The ‘Eaters had laced up their dancing shoes and gained nationwide exposure on the biggest stage in college basketball. Although it was the program’s first appearance, they played with the confidence and strength of a more experience NCAA team. Coach Turner and his boys proved to March Madness fans everywhere that they had earned their right to be there.

 

“Our togetherness and ability to overcome any adversity we faced,” junior guard Alex Young said. “That’s why we were so successful and got to that level.”




 

 

Men's Basketball, 1982

  

 
Competing against some of the top ranked teams in the nation, the 1982 men’s basketball team changed not only the atmosphere on campus, but also made a name for UCI around the country.
 
Under the direction of head coach Bill Mulligan, the Anteaters’ quick paced and fast break style of play, helped boost the team’s field-goal percentage to .561, the highest in the nation, which undoubtedly won games.
 
Starting the season winning 17 of their first 18 games, the ‘Eaters finished the season with a record of 23-7 overall.
 
And the wins did not come against lower ranked teams. The team gained recognition by knocking off top-10 ranked teams such as UNLV at the Anaheim Convention Center in front of a sold out crowd. The game was broadcast nationally on ESPN for all to see.
 
“We were no longer going to be able to sneak up...as the school with the funny name,” Rainer Wulf recalls.
 
Although the team had a successful regular season, the No. 1 spot in the conference came down to the home game against Fresno State. The ‘Eaters played in front of a packed house at the Long Beach Arena, but were unable to hold off the Bulldogs, and finished No.2 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (now the Big West Conference).
 
Determined to make a stance in the PCAA tournament, the Anteaters came out strong. Beating No.7 ranked Utah State, 90-64, UC Irvine was building up momentum. Set to face Cal State Fullerton in the semi-final round, the team unfortunately was upset by the Titans on a buzzer-beater to win the game, 62-61.
 
Despite the loss, the team was given a bid to compete in the NIT. The ‘Eaters held on to beat San Diego State 70-69 in the first round.  But would have to continue on without the help of Kevin Magee who suffered a season-ending hand injury.
 
Set to face off against Oklahoma in the second round, the team again came out strong, but could not pull off another win, The ‘Eaters lost 80-77 to end the season for the team.
 
“We ran out of gas and could not hold on,” Wulf said. “It was ours to win, but we also had players that stepped up, and did well.”
 
At the conclusion of the season, Kevin Magee took away a myriad of awards. The senior power forward was named Conference Player of the Year and earned his second A.P. All-American first team honor. Magee was fourth in the nation averaging 25.2 points per game, and fifth with 64.2 field goal percentage.  
 
Recognized for his great leadership and coaching, Coach Mulligan was also named the Orange County “Sportsman of the Year” at the end of the season.
 
The late Kevin Magee's number 44 is the only retired jersey in program history.

 



Men's Tennis, 1989


Nothing could stand in the way of the 1989 men's tennis team. Under the direction of head coach, Greg Patton in his 10th season, the 'Eaters had the leadership and experience to not only compete, but win.

The team was ranked as high as third in the nation during the season, its highest ranking in school history, before its final ranking of fourth. In addition to all of the national attention, the team was heavily supported on campus.
 
The top win of the season took place on May 6th at the UCI Tennis Stadium. With the support of 1,200 fans, the Anteaters beat the No. 1 ranked UCLA Bruins in a 5-4 victory.
 
With strong contributions from all the players, the team won its third straight Big West team title.
 
Post season proved to be just as exciting for the squad, as they continued to compete with a strong level of confidence and strength. The team made their third straight NCAA Championships appearance, and came out strong, defeating the University of San Diego, 5-3 in the first round of the tournament, before falling to Georgia, 5-1, in the quarterfinals. The team recorded wins in 20 of its last 22 matches, and finished with a dual match record of 25-7 to wrap up the season.
 
Four Anteaters achieved All-American honors for their outstanding performances on the court. Trevor Kronemann and Mike Briggs were runners-up in the doubles, as both Mark Kaplan and Richard Lubner reached the doubles semifinals together. In addition to high rankings in doubles, Kronemann reached the quarterfinals in singles. This All-American distinction was his third consecutive honor as an Anteater.
 
Yet with all the prestige of All- American honors, it was not enough for hardworking players. Kaplan was named the Region 8 Player of the Year, in addition to his Volvo Tennis Player of the Month in March, after winning all 15 of his matches. With a final ranking of No. 5 nationally, Kaplan ended the year with a 35-8 singles mark, which included a 20-match winning streak.

In other national rankings, Kronemann was ranked at No. 10, and Briggs was ranked No.62. Together Briggs-Kronemann were ranked No. 7 in doubles while Kaplan-Lubner were ranked not far behind at No.13.

 

Men's Basketball, 2014

The Big West Conference got a little bigger as the 2013-14 Anteaters introduced three players over 7 feet tall to their line up. Setting out to make a huge impression, the Anteaters were picked as the conference’s pre-season favorites and did not disappoint. UCI ended the season with a 23-12 record, with only three losses in conference play. The team clinched the program's third Big West regular season title, and the first in 12 years with a 74-46 victory over UC Davis in the regular season finale.
 
“We had one of the best defenses in the nation,” senior Chris McNealy recalls. “That’s what helped us win a lot of games.”
 
With the help of freshman center Mamadou Ndiaye, the nation's tallest college basketball player standing at 7'6”, UCI’s defense shook up the conference. Ndiaye broke both school and conference records with a staggering 106 blocked shots. Making such a huge impact on the defensive end, Ndiaye received the Big West's Best Defensive Player award, along with an All- Big West honorable mention distinction.
 
Adding to the mix was freshman guard Luke Nelson. Nelson lead the team with an 11.8 point average, and was named Big West Freshman of the Year to go along with his spot on the All-Big West Second team.
Three year veteran, junior forward Will Davis II continued his explosiveness on the court. He ended the season as the team’s rebounding leader, averaging 6.3 per game.  
 
 As the team strengthened defensively from all angles, the offensive side also stepped up its game. “As a point guard, I need to distribute the ball to my teammates,” sophomore guard Alex Young said. Sticking to that plan for success, he led the team with 146 assists for the season. “I’d rather see my teammates score.”
 
Both Davis and Young earned All-Big West Honorable Mention distinctions. Adding to the accolades, head coach Russell Turner was named the Big West Coach of the Year as well as the 2014 NABC UPS Division I District 9 Coach of the Year.
 
Ending his last season with the team on a high note, senior guard Chris McNealy was named to the All-Big West First team.
 
“I had the goals of winning the regular season title,” McNealy said. “And for myself, I wanted to be on the All- Big West First Team.”


 After a successful regular season of play, the team looked forward to the Big West Tournament. Hoping for a chance to play in the championship game, the young Anteaters beat UC Riverside 63-43, before suffering a heartbreaking 61-58 loss, to the experienced players of Cal Poly in the semifinals game at the Anaheim Honda Center.

Despite the loss, UCI was given a bid to the NIT. The 'Eaters were set to face the Southern Methodist University Mustangs on the road. Despite a strong effort by the Anteaters, the Mustangs won 68-54 ending the memorable season for the team.
 
 “As we’ve seen before, anyone can win it all,” new alumni McNealy advises. “Just stay mentally tough, and continue to compete!”
 

2014Women's Golf, 2005

Four short years is all it took for the UC Irvine women’s golf team to qualify for the NCAA Championship!

The student body passed a referendum in 1999 enabling UCI to begin a women's golf program in 2000, and it didn't take long for success to follow.

The team won three tournaments that season including the Nittany Lion Invitational, the Anteater Invitational, and finally, the Big West tournament. The ‘Eaters won the Big West Championship title by 20 strokes.

Led by freshman, Selaneé Henderson’s second place finish, all five Anteaters finished in the top 10 of the Big West Championship. Junior Angela Won finished fourth, freshman Jane Chin and junior Carling Cho tied for seventh, and freshman Kim Lorenzana, had her best finish of the season at 10th place.

After a great performance throughout the regular season, the Anteaters finished in a tie for sixth place at the NCAA West Regional, qualifying for the NCAA Championship finals.

“It was such a surreal experience,” Lorenzana recalls. “I was proud we made it all the way as a team, and to be apart of that.”

UCI finished 18th overall at their first NCAA appearance at the Sunriver Resort Meadows Course in Sunriver, Oregon.  Henderson shot a three round total of 297 to pace UCI with a 27th place.

"We had such a young team," Henderson said. "We just had an awesome start to our college careers."

Henderson and Won were both named to the All-Big West first team, while Chin and Cho earned second team honors. This was the third time Won had been named to the first team, distinguishing herself as being the first Anteater to earn the distinction three times.

“We weren't intimidated,” Lorenzana recalls. “We wanted to make history, and we did.”



Men's Volleyball, 2007

 

In 2007 the UC Irvine’s men’s volleyball team snagged their first national championship title, the school’s first national title since the men’s water polo team championship in 1989.
 
After getting upset in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship in 2006, the Anteaters were determined to make it deep into the post-season in 2007, but the ‘Eaters did not get off to the start they had hoped for.
 
“Whatever happened the year before was a disappointment for us,”  senior outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky recalls. During the 2006 season, the squad had an amazing regular season of play, but found it tough to finish out in the post-season. “We knew that this season, we needed to push it through the post-season.”
 
Falling behind 0-2 to Hawaii at home in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championship, the team fought its way back to a 3-2 victory. The with the goal in sight, the team went on to come from behind 0-2 to beat BYU and Pepperdine, 3-2 to win the team’s first MPSF title and the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
 
“We never played like we were under pressure,” Jablonsky remembers. “We kept the same team mentality, and played relaxed.”
 
The Anteaters would beat Penn State, 3-1 in the semifinals before defeating IPFW, 3-1 (30-24, 24-30, 30-23, 30-28) in the title match at Saint John's Arena in Ohio.
 
Opposite Matt Webber was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Valuable player and was joined on the all-tournament team by  setter Brian Thornton, middle blocker David Smith and Jablonsky. In addition, all four players earned All-American honors as well.
 
“We all had the same idea.” Jablonsky recalls. “We never felt we weren’t going to win the championship.”
 
Finishing with a 29-5 record overall, the ‘Eaters recorded the most wins in both school history and the most in the nation that year.
 



 

 

 

 

 

 Men's Basketball, 2000-01

Starting the new decade off right, the 2000-01 UCI men's basketball program had much to achieve. Coming off a 14-14 record the previous season, the Anteaters were hungry for more.

Under the leadership of Big West Conference Coach of the Year, Pat Douglass, in his fourth season, UCI took the conference by storm. Posting a school record 25 wins, the squad only lost five games. WIth a 15-1 in Big West record, the 'Eaters were named the regular season champions for the first time.

"I really felt in my heart that we were going to win the Big West Tournament," Jerry Green, a junior at the time, recalls. "We were going to take the basketball program where it had never been...to the big dance!"


Defeating Cal Poly 71-66 in the first round of the Big West Tournament, the Anteaters lost in the conference semifinals to the University of the Pacific, 74-58, after beating them twice in regular season play.

 

"Beating a team three times in a row is very difficult, and Pacific played a great game." Green remembers. "It was a hard pill to swallow."

 

Jerry Green's sharpshooting ability helped him lead the team with a 19.0 scoring average. He was awarded his first of two Big West Player of the Year awards that season.

The 'Eaters would end the year with a loss to eventual champion Tulsa in the first round of the NIT.

 

 

 


Baseball, 1974

 

Coming off of a National Championship winning season the year before, the 1974 UC Irvine baseball team was fired up and ready to defend their Division II title.

 Following an unprecedented season, senior pitcher Gary Wheelock, could not help but want more. “Part of the reason why I wanted to come back my senior year, was because of my team,” Wheelock recalls. “We basically had the total package that year, and we had a lot of confidence in ourselves.”

 The team lost only eight games that season, with a staggering total of 48 wins, which included a 32-game winning streak.

 Seeing another championship team in the making, head coach Gary Adams encouraged his team to keep up the momentum, “Let’s not stop here, lets win it all! You guys are good and we can win the whole championship!”

 And that is just what his team did. The ‘Eaters were a dominating force both infield and outfield, with the statistics to prove it.

 Jeff Malinoff was named the College World Series Most Valuable Player and led the NCAA with 86 hits that season. Malinoff also boasted a 31-game hit streak. Wheelock was the NCAA strikeout leader with 140 and adding to the mix was Terry Stupy, who shared the NCAA doubles title with 21 and led the nation in RBI with 59.

 The ‘Eaters secured a spot in the finals with a win over Ohio Northern to face off against New Orleans. The squad would go onto beat New Orleans twice to win the national title for the second consecutive year.

 Malinoff, Stupy, Wheelock and Keith Bridges were all named to the All-CCAA team that season.






 

Women's Basketball, 1994-95

 

The 1994-95 women’s basketball season was a season of shattering of low expectations. Pre-season polls predicted the Anteaters to finish in ninth for the season, instead they took the Big West Conference Tournament title.

 

Nothing was given to the ‘Eaters and each game was hard fought. UC Irvine shook up the conference with 12-6 record, the most conference wins in school history.


“After two years of growth both personally and athletically, it was just the perfect storm,” Junior center, Allah-mi Basheer said. “ We felt defeated, and it was time to prove something”.

 

Basheer had four final minute game winners during the year. It was Basheer's eight-foot jumper with 2.6 seconds left that defeated the Cal State Fullerton Titans, 69-67, sending the squad to the Big West championship game against The University of the Pacific.

 

“It was one of my favorite games, I’ll never forget winning against Fullerton to play in the championship,” Basheer recalls.

 

Basheer, the Big West Tournament MVP, alongside senior forward Jinelle Williams, who was an All-Tournament Team selection, led the Anteaters to a 65-53 victory against the Tigers,  securing their spot on the national stage.

 

Making their NCAA Tournament debut proved to be difficult as the Anteaters suffered a 88-55 loss to fourth-seeded Stanford, in the first round.

 

After winning just five games the previous season, UC Irvine closed out the 1994-95 season 19-11 overall.

 

“First, you must adopt a winner’s mentality, even if the wins aren’t there. You control how much you improve, and you keep improving until you reach excellence.”

 

Allah-mi Basheer and her team broke the ground and set the foundation for the future of Anteater Women’s basketball.

 

 

Men's Basketball, 1967-68

 

After just three seasons of Anteater basketball, the 1967-68 men’s basketball team made their first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance.

The ‘Eaters were led to the tournament by first-year head coach Dick Davis. Under his watch, the team went into the books as UCI’s first 20-win team with a 20-8 overall record.

At the NCAA Division II West Regional, the ‘Eaters defeated San Diego State 78-69, to head into the Regional Finals game. To end the groundbreaking season, the Anteaters were defeated by UNLV 74-79 after a hard fought battle for the Regional title.

Dick Davis and his 1968 Anteaters laid the foundation for Anteater men’s basketball.

 



 



 



 
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