Will Penn men's soccer be “California Dreamin’?”
Quakers head west with high hopes of upsetting typical West Coast powerhouses
September 12, 2013, 8:22 pm·
Michael Chien | DP
California, here we come.” The theme song to “The O.C.” got it right.
As most Penn students bunk down to start in on their studies with some observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the men’s soccer team has a different agenda. The Quakers (2-0) are setting off for their Golden State road trip.
It has become tradition for the men’s soccer team to take a trip to California every two years, so the Red and Blue will be setting their sights on two wins during the trip, facing off against Cal Poly (2-2) on Friday and No. 17 UC Santa Barbara (2-1) on Sunday.
“We always want to, num- ber one, play the best teams that we can out of conference and there are a lot of good teams in California,” coach Rudy Fuller said. “Number two, we’ve got some California kids on our roster so it’s nice to get them home at a certain point in their career.”
In the Red and Blue’s last trip to California in 2011, they came back winless, falling to both San Diego and San Diego State.
“You certainly go out there and are playing the caliber of teams we are playing, you certainly can go out there and come back empty handed,” Fuller said.
Cal Poly, led by coach Paul Holocher, is already having an exciting season. The Mustangs beat No. 6 UCLA a week ago — the highest ranked team that Cal Poly has defeated.
UCSB will be no easier an opponent. Ranked No. 23 in the preseason NCAA top 25, the Gauchos went undefeated in their first 11 matches last season and have steadily climbed the rankings this year.
“UCSB won the national championship in 2006 and have kind of been a perennial contender since then,” Fuller said. “[With] Cal Poly, their coach has done a tremendous job over the past eight years kind of raising the profile of that team and that has been a perennial top 25 team.”
The Quakers are going into this weekend fresh off two shutouts, beating Stony Brook and Sacred Heart by a combined score of 7-0.
Though Penn has started strong, nobody is taking anything for granted.
“Those were good games against two good teams, but those were the first two games of the season — any- thing could happen, it could have gone either way for us and looking forward we are 0-0 going into California,” junior captain Duke Lacroix said.
“So even though we got the two wins this weekend we are taking it one game at a time and we are just looking at it one game at a time. First Cal Poly, then UCSB.”
These two games against new opponents contribute to one of the hardest out-of-conference slates the Quakers have ever had.
“It will be a lot more competitive and it will get a lot of attendance. It will be a high intensity game. But I think going in we are go- ing to go 100 percent effort, so regardless of what they come with we are going to be ready,” Lacroix said.
Though 2013 seems to be a more promising season than 2012, there are still many games to be played.
And as the Quakers adjust to a new time zone, they’ll have their first opportunity to show what they’re really made of.