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Szekeres Has Law on His Side in Family’s Upcoming Soccer Civil War

He made rounds with his mother, an endocrinologist, and worked as an unofficial paralegal for his father, an attorney. And somewhere along the way, David Szekeres decided he preferred habeas corpus to hormones. So the UC Irvine senior with the 3.85 grade-point average has applied to four law schools: Stanford, California, UCLA and USC.

“In high school, I was really interested in biology and science in general, but after working with my dad, I became fascinated with the legal process,” said Szekeres, who attended Villa Park High. “In our family, it’s sort of one or the other. I rebelled in high school a little, but it wasn’t long before I came to my senses.”

His younger brother, Jeff, went the other way: He’s a premed major at Stanford.

But the Szekeres brothers have always agreed on their favorite sport--soccer--and both are midfielders who will play against each other for the first time Oct. 25, when the Cardinal hosts the Anteaters.

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“The whole family is flying up,” David Szekeres said. “My mom’s going to sit on one side and my dad on the other. They’re still trying to decide who will be where.

“In some ways, I almost wish it would end in a tie. I sure hope they don’t win, though. We’re talking about a lifetime of bragging rights. I can hear Jeff now, when he’s 70 years old, telling my grand kids how he beat their grandpa in the big soccer match.”

Barring a bizarre malpractice action of some sort, the prospective lawyer and doctor may never do battle again. And, even though both are midfielders, chances are there won’t be any brother slide-tackling brother action Oct. 25.

The elder Szekeres is a right midfielder. Jeff moves around some, but plays mostly on the right side too.

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“I hope he plays left midfielder, though,” David said. “That would be really fun.”

In year’s past, a Stanford victory might have been the futbol equivalent of a slam dunk, but the Anteaters have come a long way in the five years Szekeres has been involved in the program. He was a medical redshirt in 1994 when he broke his cheekbone during an on-field collision while attempting a header.

Irvine was 27-49-2 in a four-season span beginning in 1992 when Szekeres was a freshman. This season, the Anteaters are 4-4-1, but Szekeres, a co-captain, thinks they could have seven or eight victories with a couple of key goals.

How far have the Anteaters come? Friday night, they took a 1-1 tie into the 82nd minute against Cal State Fullerton, the No. 11 team in the nation, before losing, 2-1.

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Szekeres was the starting fullback for four years at Villa Park High and with the Olympic Development Program junior team. But he loves his new position on the wing, where his main job is to carry the ball down the sideline and “cross it for assists.”

After nine games, he’s third on the team in scoring with two goals and three assists.

And no matter what the outcome Oct. 25 or how this season ends for Irvine, Szekeres will head off to law school with good feelings about his soccer career.

“I love soccer and everything it’s taught me, but when it’s time to move on to something else, I’ll be fine,” he said. “But don’t get me wrong. I won’t leave it behind. I would really love to coach on some level someday.”

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Clubbed into shape: When he was 15, Szekeres joined the Mission Viejo Pateadores. He currently wears No. 5 in honor of former Pateadores Coach Bob O’Leary, who died from brain cancer two years ago.

“That was the number he wore when he played professionally and when he was an All-American at St. Louis University,” Szekeres said. “He changed my life in a lot of ways.”

For a year, Szekeres’ mother drove him from Villa Park to Mission Viejo and back for practice every Tuesday and Thursday. For the next three years, he made the commute himself.

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Apparently, it was worth every minute behind the wheel.

“I never would have played in college without him,” Szekeres said. “He enabled me to become good enough to play here. It was much more than skills and fundamentals. He taught us about strategy, tactics and, even more important, about discipline and teamwork.

“Playing for the Pateadores was the best experience of my life. Everyone on the team was really motivated to become good enough to play at the highest level of Division I soccer.

“And, thanks to [O’Leary], every one of us made it.”

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Heads-up: Sophomore Kelly Dohman, from Mater Dei High, didn’t make much of an impact on the women’s soccer team last year. But she has become an anchor in the center of the Anteater defense and a surprisingly effective offensive force as well.

“Kelly’s a very good athlete, but she played sparingly last year because she just wasn’t fit,” Coach Marine Cano said. “But she came into the preseason a brand new kid. I think we were all surprised to find out that she’s one of the fastest players on the team.”

She also knows how to use her head. Dohman, a center fullback, moves up on corner kicks and other set pieces and has scored four goals on headers.

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“She’s so strong and really good in the air,” Cano said. “And she’s had a bunch of near misses. She could have two or three more goals.”

Anteater Notes

Ryan Bailey has scored at least two goals in seven of the water polo team’s first eight matches this season. Bailey leads Irvine in scoring with 31 points, including six two-point goals. The fourth-ranked Anteaters face No. 3 California Friday at Berkeley. . . . Midfielder Simone Ferrara picked up her 15th career assist during Irvine’s 4-1 loss to Pacific Thursday. Ferrara, a sophomore, is only 10 assists shy of the school record established by Shawna Berke (1991-94). . . .Sophomore Jamie Blair was Irvine’s top finisher (39th in 18 minutes 51 seconds) as the women’s cross-country team took sixth place in the 19-team Stanford Invitational Saturday. The men’s team was 14th in a 21-team field. Both teams compete Saturday in the UC San Diego Invitational in La Jolla. . . . The women’s sailing team is ranked 11th in the nation and the coed team is No. 12 in Sailing World magazine’s preseason poll. Last spring, the Anteaters finished second in the national dinghy championships.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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Coming Attractions

Here’s a look at key games this week for UC Irvine:

* Women’s soccer plays Friday and Sunday in Anteater Stadium. Irvine (7-4-1) hosts North Texas in a Big West game at 6 Friday and USC at noon Sunday.

* Women’s volleyball faces Cal State Fullerton and Nevada. Irvine, which has lost 13 consecutive matches, hosts the Titans in the Bren Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Nevada in Crawford Hall at 7 Thursday.

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* Men’s soccer hosts UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. Friday and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo at noon Sunday. The Anteaters (4-4-1) are looking for their first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation victory.


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