|Senior All-American Tara Chance has been lost for the season due to a knee injury.|
|Cal Poly Pomona's Alejandra Diaz sprints away from Melany Barrios during the Broncos season opener against Fresno Pacific. Cal Poly Pomona, with a preseason ranking of 9th in the nation, won 6-1.|
|Cal Poly Pomona's Michelle McConnell heads a ball over Randi Streib during the Broncos season opener against Fresno Pacific.|
High expectations are nothing new for the Cal Poly Pomona women?s soccer team. Having finished in the top 10 nationally two of the past three seasons, the Broncos entered the 2002 campaign with six starters and 11 players overall returning from a team that finished 16-4-2 and reached the NCAA Division II West Regional final.
While expectations remain high, the Broncos enter California Collegiate Athletic Association play missing a key component to their overall success as senior All-American Tara Chance has been lost for the season due to a knee injury.
Chance, a third team All-American in 2001, will be sidelined for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in her left knee during the opening minutes of the Broncos' 1-0 loss to 10th ranked Barry University on Sunday, Sept. 8. The Alta Loma High School graduate was a major part of a Bronco defense that allowed only 13 goals in 22 games in 2001. The kinesiology major also earned Verizon All-District VIII honors last year.
?Sometimes words can't reflect how important one player is on a team and the loss of Tara Chance definitely proves that statement,? first year head coach Paul Caligiuri said. ?We have good depth on our team and a lot of character, but it's going to take exceptional effort to overcome this. It will take some huge adjustments. It changes our scope (because) Tara allows you to do so many things more dynamically.?
Depth still remains a key factor for Cal Poly Pomona, led by returning first-team All-West Region players Michelle McConnell and Katie Kreps. McConnell, a junior forward/midfielder, directs an attack that also features CCAA freshman of the year Lisa Arajuo (Soph., forward) plus standout newcomers Erica Rodriguez (Fr., midfielder/forward) and Chelsea Hipley (Fr., midfielder). Kreps, a senior goalkeeper, anchors a defense that includes twin sisters Kira Akman (Sr., defender) and Kim Akman-Zollinger (Sr., defender).
In their first full match without Chance, the Broncos got goals from Araujo and Rodriguez to earn a 2-1 win Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Grand Canyon University to open CCAA play.
Now 3-2 overall, 1-0 in conference and ranked 14th in the nation, Cal Poly Pomona travels to face two-time defending NCAA Division II champion UC San Diego Saturday in a CCAA showdown at La Jolla. The 7 p.m. start continues a rivalry that saw the two conference opponents meet four times in 2001. The Broncos and Tritons split their regular season matches before UCSD edged Cal Poly Pomona in the conference tournament championship (2-0) and West Regional final (1-0).
For additional information on Bronco women?s soccer, visit the athletic department.