The fall semester is only a few weeks old, but already soccer players at local universities have experienced one of the great joys of collegiate life: an eventful road trip.
The men's and women's teams at both UC Irvine and Vanguard came away with impressive road victories last week and the Vanguard women, coming off an 18-2-1 campaign in 2012, are 5-0 this season without the luxury of a home game.
The Vanguard women, ranked No. 2 in the NAIA, topped then No. 8-ranked Mobile, 2-0, on Saturday at Orange Beach Sportsplex in Alabama. The day before, Coach Randy Dodge's squad defeated then-No. 17-ranked William Carey, 3-2.
William Carey is ranked No. 13 in the latest NAIA poll released Tuesday, while Mobile fell to No. 17.
The Vanguard (2-2) men upset then-No. 1-ranked Mobile, 3-0, on Saturday, also in Orange Beach. The Lions' men have also played all four of their contests on the road and will have three more away from home, before playing their first match on campus.
The UC Irvine women ventured to Provo, Utah to knock off then-No. 6-ranked BYU, 1-0, on Saturday. It's the highest-ranked opponent the UCI women have ever defeated.
The UCI women, coached by Scott Juniper, are 3-1 on the road this season and 3-0 outside California.
The UCI men, coached by George Kuntz, are 2-1-1 in away games this season, but more importantly, 3-0 in games decided by one goal. The Anteaters (3-1-2), ranked No. 24 by College Soccer News, as well as No. 25 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, lost 10 games by one goal a season ago, when they finished 5-14-1.
The aforementioned road success bodes well for all four local squads.
The Vanguard women, who won the Golden State Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles last season en route to the NAIA quarterfinals, have outscored opponents, 24-5, this season.
Senior forward Kayla Arenas has seven goals and two assists, after posting 11 goals and four assists last season, when the Lions outscored foes, 65-8.
Senior Jordan Davidson, a first-team NAIA All-American a year ago after transferring from a community college in Arizona, has two goals and three assists, to give her 20 goals and 13 assists as a Lion.
Junior Jennifer Martin, a transfer from Santiago Canyon Community College in Orange, has three goals and five assists thus far for VU, which has received three goals and two assists from Fresno City College transfer Liliana Ruiz.
Lauren Terry, the Lions' junior goalkeeper and a third-team All-American in 2012, has allowed five goals in five games this season.
The UCI men, who have amassed a 95-36 advantage in shots this season, though scoring six goals and allowing six goals, have allowed just 13 shots on goal, fewest among Big West Conference teams.
The 'Eaters are led by veteran attackers Enrique Cardenas, Trey Hayes and Cameron Iwasa. Cardenas, a senior, and Hayes, a junior, have two goals apiece, while Iwasa, another junior, has two assists.
Michael Breslin, a redshirt sophomore, has three shutouts and an 0.78 goals-against average through six games for the 'Eaters.
The UCI women (4-3) are led by two-time first-team All-Big West performer Natalia Ledezma, named Offensive Player of the Week in the conference for the fourth time in her career on Monday. Ledezma, who transferred from UCLA after her freshman season in 2010, has three goals and two assists this season. She now has 18 goals and 16 assists in her prolific UCI career.
Laura McGrail, who had a team-best six goals in 2012, has two goals and two assists in this her junior season.