Los Angeles Soccer: Cal Poly Pomona
They're the big names, but hardly the only ones, among local players aiming for an opportunity with a Major League Soccer team. There are nearly two dozen players who grew up or went to school in Greater Los Angeles hoping to hear their names called in Kansas City.
Some of them, let's be honest, don't have a shot, not with just two rounds of picks -- 38 in all. Next week's supplemental draft will provide possibilities, and players will be looking to participate in team combines and in trials during preseason training.
Some might look abroad -- there are leagues everywhere on the planet -- and there are two professional minor leagues (NASL, USL Pro) and several pro clubs in the Premier Development League and its rival NPSL.
Here's a quick rundown of 22 players who might find a job in MLS, if the right situation develops:
UCLA's Chandler Hoffman scored goals by the bunches on a quest to go home. Nadia Link netted nearly as many to take Long Beach State to unprecedented heights. Christian Ramirez dazzled for Concordia. And Fabiola da Silva prodded Cal Baptist to a national championship.
They're ESPN Los Angeles College Players of the Year after superb fall campaigns on local fields.
We selected men's and women's teams, one for players from 10 local NCAA Division I institutions and another for players from 24 NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and unaffiliated schools.
Our coaches of the year in Division I are Junior Gonzalez, who led the remarkable turnaround by UC Riverside's men, and Tim Ward, whose Pepperdine women were a top-five team during the regular season. In the lower divisions, it's Ralph Perez, who took Redlands' men to 20 wins and NCAA Division III third-round berth, and Kristen St. Clair, who presided over a superb transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II, with the Pacific West Conference title and National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association Division I national crown.
The freshmen of the year: Cal State Northridge's Edwin Rivas and UCLA's Abby Dahlkemper in D1, Cal Baptist's Michael Salazar and Cal Lutheran's Taylor Will in D2/D3/NAIA.
Here are our inaugural postseason all-star teams:
In the Big West Conference, UC Irvine's Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) and UC Riverside's Cesar Diaz Pizarro (Chino/Ayala HS) were co-Offensive Players of the Year. UCI's Andrew Fontein was honored as top goalkeeper, and Riverside's Nat Gonzalez was Coach of the Year. UC Santa Barbara's Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) won Midfielder of the Year honors, and James Kiffe was the best defender.
California Collegiate Athletic Association champion Cal State L.A. dominated the league's awards, with UC Santa Barbara transfer Taylor Rivas (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) winning for Most Valuable Defensive Player, Rosario Bras for Newcomer of the Year and Chris Chamides as Coach of the Year. Cal Poly Pomona star Luis Gonzalez (Long Beach/Millikan HS and Cerritos College) was the Most Valuable Offensive Player.
Redlands' Cody Carlson (Burbank/Burbank HS) is the Southern California Collegiate Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year.
Here are all of the local men's all-conference teams:
As the college soccer season hits its stretch drive, let's take a look at some of the most dominant players in Southern California this year, no matter the division.
Here are 10 who enjoyed marvelous campaigns:
- LUIS GONZALEZ
Who is he? Senior striker from Long Beach (Millikan HS), the national JC Player of the Year at Cerritos College and soon-to-be two-time All-American in two seasons with the Broncos.
What has he done? Scored 14 goals this year and 26 in two seasons at Cal Poly Pomona, winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association's Most Valuable Offensive Player award this fall.
Coachspeak: “I equate Luis Gonzalez to Magic Johnson,” Broncos coach Lance Thompson said, “and I do that because a heard a story about Magic where he was playing for his youth basketball team and they were winning and he was jumping for joy and excited and couldn't figure out why his teammates were so depressed. Well, if the team scored 70 points, he scored 68, and he learned a valuable lesson of giving and getting others involved so they could contribute, and he became one of the best assist guys ever. That's Luis. Luis takes more pride and has more joy in getting teammates involved than he does in scoring. And the more he gave, the more he received. That's what sets him apart over any other student-athlete I've coached.”
- COCO GOODSON
Who is she? Senior center back from Ramona (San Diego County), a University of Texas transfer expected to repeat as a Division I All-American.
What has she done? Set the standard at the back to lead the Anteaters to back-to-back Big West Conference titles, an NCAA sweet 16 appearance last year, and a return to the NCAA tournament this fall.
Coachspeak: “Coco's unique,” Anteaters coach Scott Juniper said. “She is the strongest player that I've seen in women's soccer. She strikes a ball better than many of the male players I've worked with, and she is just a relentless competitor. She's totally unique, and there isn't another player out there like her.”
College all-conference teams are starting to show up, and several local players (and one coach) are winning awards.
All four players of the year in the Big West Conference are with local schools. Long Beach State's Nadia Link (Rowland Heights/Walnut HS) is the Offensive Player of the Year and Shawna Gordon (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos HS) is Midfielder of the Year.
All-American CoCo Goodson of UC Irvine is the Defensive Player of the Year, and Cal State Northridge's Cynthia Jacobo (Arleta/Granada Hills HS) is Goalkeeper of the Year.
West Coast Conference co-champion Pepperdine was honored with the conference's Coach of the Year, for Tim Ward, and Freshman of the Year, for Lynn Williams.
The Most Valuable Offensive Player in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, for NCAA Division II programs, is Cal State Dominguez Hills' Jessica Murphy (Torrance/West Torrance HS). Cal Poly Pomona's Christina Carriaga (Walnut/Walnut HS and Mt. San Antonio College) is the Newcomer of the Year.
In the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, for NCAA Division III schools, Cal Lutheran swept the top awards, with Sinead Vaughn (Simi Valley/Royal HS, Moorpark College and Cal State Northridge) voted Athlete of the Year and Taylor Will selected Newcomer of the Year.
Here are full lists from the Big West, WCC, CCAA and SCIAC:
Kopf scored in the 46th, 54th and 90th minutes to lead the 24th-ranked Anteaters (13-3-2), who went 6-1-1 in Big West play to edge Long Beach State by a point. UC Irvine will be home Wednesday against UC Davis in a conference tournament semifinal.
UCLA transfer Natalia Ledezma added a goal and two assists for UCI, which scored three goals in the first 8½ minutes of the second half to turn a tight match into a rout.
Kopf's trio gives her 11 goals this season; Ledezma leads the Anteaters with 12.
UC Riverside closes its season at 8-9-2.
In other women's action:
- Nadia Link (Rowland Heights/Walnut HS) scored the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute, then sent in a cross for Jazz Strozier (Ventura/Buena HS and Ventura College) to finish just 39 seconds later as Long Beach State pulled out a 4-2 victory over visiting Pacific. Link scored twice, her 13th and 14th goals of the season, as the 49ers (13-5-1) finished second in the Big West; they will meet Cal State Northridge in a conference tournament opener Wednesday.
- Sydney Leroux's 14th goal of the season arrived nearly eight minutes into overtime, lifting No. 6 UCLA (14-1-2) to a 1-0 Pacific 12 Conference victory at Utah.
- Ashley Freyer tallied in the 59th minute as USC (7-12-0) toppled host Colorado in a Pac-12 game, the Women of Troy's fourth win in their last five games.
- Lynn Williams and Laura Cole (Whittier/La Habra HS) scored 4½ minutes apart late in the first half as No. 3 Pepperdine (14-1-4) bounced back from Friday's loss to Santa Clara with a 2-1 victory over Portland.
Pepperdine's dream of an unbeaten season ended Friday night to a goal scored with just eight seconds to go in the first half.
No. 10 Santa Clara pulled out a 1-0 triumph over the third-ranked Waves, vaulting into the top spot in the West Coast Conference when Bridgett Miller (Los Angeles/Archer School for Girls) put away a deflected free kick in the Bay Area showdown.
Roxanne Barker (Irvine/Woodbridge HS) made two big saves to keep Pepperdine (13-1-4) level, but there were no answers for Miller's goal.
“[Santa Clara is] a good team, and, to their credit, they came out firing, and we came out flat,” Waves head coach Tim Ward told his school's athletics web site. “As poorly as we were playing in the first half, I thought we were going to come out with a 0-0 score at half, but, unfortunately,
it didn't happen.
“The second half, we played much better and had some excellent scoring opportunties.”
The best was a Myriah Stockman try off a corner kick in the 52nd minute that Broncos goalkeeper Bianca Henninger saved.
Santa Clara (12-1-5) is 5-0-1 in the WCC. The Waves, who are home Sunday against Portland, and San Diego are 5-1; BYU is 4-1-1.
The loss ended a program-record 18-game unbeaten streak for Pepperdine,
In other women´s action:
- Taylor Nelson (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) and Nicole Sweetman (Oxnard/Oaks Christian HS and UCLA) scored goals three minutes apart early in the second half as Long Beach State (12-5-1) clinched a Big West Conference tournament berth and climbed within a point of first-place UC Irvine with one game to go with a 2-0 victory over visiting UC Davis.
- Sydney Leroux netted her second first-half hat trick in as many weeks and Jenna Richmond added two goals as sixth-ranked UCLA (13-1-2) romped to an 8-0 Pacific 12 Conference victory at Colorado.
- Lauren Mellano (Fullerton/Troy HS) scored 105 seconds into overtime as Cal State Fullerton (8-8-3) edged Pacific, 1-0, in Big West play. The Titans tied an NCAA record (set in 2005 by William & Mary) with their 11th overtime game of the season and are 4-4-3 in games with the extra period.
- USC (6-12-0) saw its three-game winning streak halted in a 3-0 Pac-12 loss at Utah.
Natalia Ledezma netted a hat trick and UC Irvine took a huge step toward successive Big West Conference regular-season titles Sunday afternoon, romping to a 4-0 victory in a first-place showdown at Cal State Northridge.
Ledezma (La Mirada/La Mirada HS), a sophomore transfer from UCLA, followed a third-minute own goal with strikes in the 11th, 66th and 77th minutes as the Anteaters (12-3-2) improved to 5-1-1 in the Big West. Ledezma, who netted the first hat trick for UCI in 15 years, has 11 goals this season.
Northridge (6-8-2), a surprise contender for the conference title, fell to 4-2-1 in conference play. UC Davis (4-1-1) and Long Beach State (4-2) also are in the battle for the conference title.
Irvine and Northridge each have one conference match remaining.
In other women's action:
- Laura Cole (Whittier/La Habra HS) and Amanda LeCave scored first-half goals as No. 4 Pepperdine (13-0-4) extended its unbeaten streak to 18 games with a 2-1 West Coast Conference victory at St. Mary's. The Waves are 5-0 in WCC play and stand two points in front of Santa Clara, which it faces Friday in the Bay Area.
- Chelsea Stewart scored in the 28th minute and fed Jenna Richmond for a goal in the 35th, and No. 7 UCLA (12-1-2) toppled visiting Arizona State, 2-0, in a Pacific 12 Conference clash.
- Elizabeth Eddy scored on a 60th-minute breakaway as USC (6-11-0) claimed its third straight Pac-12 victory, beating visiting Arizona, 1-0.
All-American Sydney Leroux scored a hat trick in 11 minutes Friday night, and seventh-ranked UCLA romped to a 6-1 victory over visiting Arizona in a Pacific 12 Conference women's soccer game.
Leroux, a burgeoning U.S. national-teamer, tallied in the 10th, 12th and 21st minutes for the Bruins (11-1-2), who scored four first-half goals as they halted a three-game winless streak and improved to 4-1-2 in conference play.
The goals were Leroux's eighth, ninth and 10th of the season and give her 51 career goals. The hat trick was the third of her college career.
Zakiya Bywaters, Ally Courtnall (Westlake Village/Oaks Christian HS) and Kylie McCarthy also tallied for UCLA, which outshot the Wildcats, 24-2. Sam Mewis contributed three assists.
In other women´s action:
- Claire Schloemer (Newport Beach/Mater Dei HS) struck four minutes into overtime, and USC (5-11-0) claimed its first home victory of the season -- following seven defeats -- with a wild 2-1 triumph over Arizona State. Ashli Sandoval (Jamul/Granite Hills HS) broke a scoreless draw in the 83rd and set up Schloemer's winner after Devin Marshall's header with 38 seconds to go in regulation tied the score. It
- Ally Holtz took advantage of poor back pass to Gonzaga's goalkeeper, nodding the ball into the lower-left corner in the 77th minute to lift No. 4 Pepperdine (12-0-4) to a 1-0 West Coast Conference victory.
- Nicole Sweetman (Oxnard/Oaks Christian HS and UCLA) scored on a 75th-minute header, and Long Beach State (11-5-1) ended a two-game skid with a 1-0 Big West victory over UC Riverside (7-8-0).
Chandler Hoffman scored twice in the final 21 minutes and ninth-ranked UCLA toppled No. 24 San Diego State, 2-0, Sunday at Drake Stadium to claim its eighth straight victory against Pacific 12 Conference men's soccer competition.
Hoffman scored in the 70th and 83rd minutes, his 10th and team-best 11th goals of the season, as the Bruins (10-3-1) improved to 5-0 in Pac-12 play with a six-point lead on San Diego State (8-3-2) and Washington (8-3-2), which are 3-2 in conference.
Hoffman, who ended a four-game goal drought, tallied from Kelyn Rowe's long ball to break the scoreless draw, then added the second from a feed by Victor Muñoz, firing home after his first attempt was blocked. Hoffman has 17 goals in his last 20 games for UCLA.
In other men's action:
- Sean Sears and Artur Jozkowicz (Santa Monica/Santa Monica HS) netted second-half goals, and Loyola Marymount (5-9-0) won its third in a row, a 2-1 decision over visiting San Francisco, the West Coast Conference leader heading into the weekend.
- UC Santa Barbara transfer Taylor Rivas (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) tallied in the 87th minute and Cal State L.A. (8-1-5), No. 13 in the NCAA Division II rankings, escaped with a 1-1 draw in a California Collegiate Athletic Association clash at Cal State San Bernardino (5-8-1). UC Irvine transfer Brett Faggioni scored for the Coyotes in the 12th minute.
Farran (San Pedro/San Pedro HS) fired home with 97 seconds remaining in regulation after Katie Russ (Canyon Country/Canyon HS) headed along a throw-in from Chloe McDaniel (Palmdale/Quartz Hill HS).
Long Beach State (10-4-1) had won six in a row and led the Big West with a 3-0 mark, but the loss drops the 49ers one point behind the Matadors (5-7-2) and UC Irvine, which are 3-1-1. Long Beach visits Irvine on Sunday.
Northridge has won three of its last four games.
In other women's action:
- Elizabeth Eddy (Newport Beach/Newport Harbor HS) tallied in the fifth minute, and USC ended an eight-game losing streak and claimed its first Pacific 12 Conference victory in a 1-0 encounter at Washington. The Women of Troy (4-11-0), who are 1-5 in the Pac-12, benefited from solid defense backed up by freshman goalkeeper Carley Pennington (Rancho Cucamonga/St. Lucy's Priory HS), who got the shutout in her college debut.
- No. 6 UCLA (10-1-3) dictated play and ran up a 29-8 advantage in shots but couldn't find the net, and the scoreless draw at Washington State extended the Bruins' winless streak to three games. The Cougars (10-4-2) moved ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 standings at 4-1-1. The Bruins are 3-1-2.
Stanford scored four first-half goals to rout the Bruins, 4-1, Sunday in its packed Cagan Stadium, extending its home winning streak in women's soccer to 43 games and taking command of the Pacific 12 Conference race.
Chioma Ubogagu scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season to deliver a two-goal lead by the 18th minute. After Zakiya Bywaters halved the deficit seconds later for UCLA (10-1-2), Lindsay Taylor scored her ninth of the year in the 28th and Kristy Zurmuhlen provided a three-goal edge in the 40th.
UCLA's four-game shutout streak ended, but the Bruins stopped Stanford's seven-game stretch.
“I think we're in a good place,” said Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe, whose team has reached the past two NCAA Division I finals. “The team's doing well, but we've got to keep getting better. We've got to keep improving. We've got to learn from this game and keep growing.”
The Cardinal (13-0-1), which is 5-0-0 in the Pac-12, is looking for a third successive perfect conference campaign. Every other Pac-12 school has lost at least one. UCLA is 3-1-1.
In other women's action:
- USC (3-10-0) lost its eighth in a row as Rachel Mercik and Taylor Comeau scored second-half goals in Cal's 2-0 victory. The Women of Troy are 0-4-0 in Pac-12 play.
- Nicole Hubbard (Lakewood/Mayfair HS) scored with 12 seconds to go in regulation and Nadia Link (Rowland Heights/Walnut HS) netted her 12th goal of the season in the fifth minute of overtime as No. 23 Long Beach State (10-3-1) rallied for a 2-1 Big West Conference victory over Cal State Fullerton (6-6-2).
The third-ranked Bruins posted their fourth straight shutout but struggled to create an attack and settled for a 0-0 draw Friday at Cal, the first blemish on their Pacific 12 Conference record.
The top-ranked Cardinal is next, in a game Sunday afternoon at 1,900-seat Cagan Stadium on Stanford's campus. The school announced Saturday that no tickets remain.
UCLA (10-0-2) dropped behind Stanford (12-0-1) in the Pac-12 standings. Stanford is 4-0-0 after a 3-0 win Friday over USC, and UCLA is 3-0-1.
Sydney Payne and Rachel Quon scored first-half goals and Natalie Griffen added another in the final minute of the Cardinal's victory over USC (3-10-0). Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe, who played for UCLA's 1990 NCAA men's title-winners, claimed his 200th career victory -- he's 200-69-26 in 14 seasons at St. Mary's and Stanford.
USC has lost seven in a row.
In other women's action:
- Loyola Marymount (6-5-1) lost in its West Coast Conference opener as Joan Piasta scored an early goal and set up another late to lift San Francisco, 2-1. Etajha Gilmer (Cerritos/Gahr HS) tallied for the Lions.
Englishman Andy Rose scored in the first minute of overtime, and UCLA escaped its Pacific 12 Conference men's soccer opener with a 1-0 victory Friday night over visiting California.
Rose, a senior midfielder, scored from Shawn Singh's feed 59 seconds into the extra period, the third pass from a corner kick that Kelyn Rowe played short to Spaniard Victor Munoz.
The 25th-ranked Bruins (6-3-1) were the aggressor and held a 17-6 shot advantage on Cal (3-3-2) in a matchup of the Pac-12's perennial powers. UCLA plays Stanford on Sunday.
In other men's action:
- Taylor Rivas (Lancaster/Lancaster HS and UC Santa Barbara) nodded home an 89th-minute throw-in from Osvaldo Lopez (Palmdale/Palmdale HS) to give Cal State L.A. (5-1-3), ranked 15th in D2, a 1-1 California Collegiate Athletic Conference draw at Cal Poly Pomona (6-2-1).
Billy Gutierrez is a sparkplug off the bench. Tiffany Hollis is a presence in the nets. Both are crucial players for Cal State Dominguez Hills' soccer programs, which enter every season with national-championship aspirations.
And they're a team.
Gutierrez, a 26-year-old senior defender, and Hollis, 20, a junior goalkeeper, will celebrate 18 months of marriage at season's end -- and they hope, too, for returns to the NCAA Division II tournaments after both teams missed the postseason last year.
The men are off to a 6-2-1 start, with Gutierrez (Huntington Park/Huntington Park HS) the Toros' No. 2 scorer, with a pair goals and three assists. The women (5-4-0) have struggled, ending a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win Friday at San Francisco State. Hollis (Los Angeles/Lakewood HS) has been a strong suit and was the California Collegiate Athletic Association's player of the week earlier this month.
Soccer provided a foundation for their relationship, and with home life, classes (both major in kinesiology) and the tight ties between the teams (they travel together for CCAA matches), they rarely spend time apart.
“Soccer is a big deal for both of us, because we are always talking about soccer, and that's what brought us together in the beginning ... ” Hollis told the school's athletics website. “We know how to find a balance between everything, but it's not easy. We decided to get into this boat together, and now we just have to know how to work through the adversities, remembering what the most important thing is, which is our relationship.”
Gutierrez and Hollis met in a soccer class three years ago at Cerritos College, where both played for the Falcons' state-championship sides. They wed in May 2010, arrived in Carson a year ago and played reserve roles for Dominguez Hills, which struggled after winning the men's national title in 2008 and reaching the women's championship game in 2009.