Opponent Preview: Wolverines take off to California for first road trip of the season
Photo credit: UVU Athletics
Utah Valley University vs University of California Irvine
Where: Irvine, Calif.
When: Friday, Aug. 31 at 8 p.m.
Quick Glance: University of California Irvine
Location: Irvine, Calif.
Conference: Big West Conference (BWC)
2017 Season: 8-8-3 (overall), 3-5-2 (conference), 4-3-2 (home), 3-5-1 (away)
UC Irvine had their fair share of struggles last season. Finishing last in the South Division of the BWC, the Anteaters scrapped up just three conference wins and only one on the road. The positive for UC Irvine in 2017 was mainly their preseason performance. Starting things off strong, they were able to go 5-3-1 leading up to conference play. However, after that the Anteaters continually fell short and did not end up qualifying for the conference tournament.
Four days prior to taking on UVU on their home turf, UC Irvine will take a cross-continental trip to play UCF in Florida. With not a lot of time to get back to home-base, it will be hard to gauge how much of a home-field advantage UC Irvine will have returning from such a long trip. However, the Anteaters only lost one non-conference game at home last season — and that is not something the Wolverines should take lightly.
The ‘Eaters definitely have some players that UVU will need to watch out for, especially their returning seniors. Midfielder Daniel Crisostomo and defender Jose Soto both earned All-Big West second team honors. Another returning senior, forward Ivan Canales, earned All-Big West honorable mention. Crisostomo lead the conference with nine assists, while Soto helped the team accomplish four shutouts with his team-leading 1,700 minutes played.
The match with UC Irvine will be a good test to see where the Wolverines sit this season. Things for UVU went well on their California road trip in 2017, as they were able to get wins against both California State Fullerton and San Diego State. UVU went 6-10-2 last season, and like the Anteaters, failed to qualify for their conference tournament. Travelling to UC Irvine will be a great way for the Wolverines to gauge their talent level this season. UVU won’t want things to finish the way they did in 2017, so a strong opening road trip would be beneficial.