With Adams at Forward, Anteaters Will Be Tough in Trenches
For a second time, Garrett Adams has signed on with a group looking for a few good men. The uniform is a tad different and the drills are cake.
But after you’ve been in the Marines, how tough can the UC Irvine men’s soccer team be?
“I was moving some benches around one day, trying to create a small obstacle course for the team to run through,” Anteater Coach George Kuntz said. “They had to go under the benches, stuff like that. Garrett hits the ground and starts crawling commando-style, on his elbows. Then he gets up and takes off. It wasn’t too hard for him.”
Once a Marine, always a Marine.
That grit, Kuntz said, will make Adams a force for the Anteaters.
Adams, who missed most of last season because of a torn muscle in his thigh and is recuperating from a sprained ankle, is projected to be one of the team’s starting forwards. Quite an accomplishment, considering the Anteaters are well stocked at forward, including Mike Mucino, who reached the final cut for the U.S. under-20 team.
Competition, though, doesn’t bother the 5-foot-6, 150-pound Adams. Certainly it’s no comparison to the Marines.
“The first week I was in the boot camp they had us pair off in a five-by-five boxing ring,” Adams said. “The did it by height. I was so short, they had nobody to match up with me. The only guy left was 5-10 or 6-0. I won in about 10 seconds. I just threw it all out.”
Adams, though, is more than just a tough guy. He played for the North Huntington Beach Soccer Club and Huntington Beach High School. Those skills were apparent to Kuntz immediately.
“Last year, he scored more goals in the first three days of camp than anyone on the team,” Kuntz said. “He’s like a little top out there. It may not look pretty, but you can’t attack. His first three steps are incredible.”
Adams was a talented player even in high school, but sold himself short before his senior year. He didn’t think any colleges were interested in him as a player, so he looked to move on with his life.
When college coaches from San Jose State and San Diego State visited, ready to offer at least a partial scholarship, they found that Adams had already signed a letter of commitment . . . with the Marines.
“When I realized that there were schools interested in me, I went to the Marines and said, ‘Look, I’d rather play soccer and get my education, then possibly join the Marines later on,’ ” said Adams, who graduated from Huntington Beach in 1994.
Sure, see you in four years wasn’t exactly the reply. Adams spent two years in the Corps.
The experience helped improve him as a player by trimming off the baby fat. He was leaner when he was mustered out, but his skills were a little rusty. Adams spent a year at Golden West College, while kicking around with some of the local men’s league teams, including one run by Cameron Beaulac, his North Huntington Beach club coach.
Beaulac, who played at Irvine, then contacted Kuntz to make a pitch for Adams. It wasn’t a hard sell.
“I could see how intense Garrett was as a player,” Kuntz said. “He can be very dangerous. All we needed to do was harness that energy a little.”
That has be easy, on the field. Off it, well, he still needs a little refining.
“I had the team running on the beach the other day and Garrett said, ‘We should do this with packs on,’ ” Kuntz said.
Once a Marine, always a Marine.
I spy: So why did Adams choose the Marines? Well, his father, Alexander, spent five years in the Corps. But there was another reason.
“I was interested in the CIA,” Adams said. “We had a family friend who was in the CIA and I would always talk to him about it. I wanted to go in that direction. Funny how your plans change.”
Did they, now?
“I wouldn’t be taking classes and playing soccer at UCI if I was in the CIA,” Adams said.
Sure you wouldn’t.
The women’s soccer team began a three-game trip through Oregon to open its season, concluding today against Portland--the jewel of the trip.
Portland is ranked third in the nation in the preseason poll and reached the NCAA Final Four last season, losing to Notre Dame. So an Anteater victory would be good now, but great later. Beating such a prominent team could help Irvine reach the NCAA tournament.
“BYU went 22-1 last year and didn’t go [because of its schedule],” Anteater Coach Marine Cano said. “We need to win games against some good teams.”
Cano, though, hedged his bet a little. Portland faced a strong Washington team on Monday.
“Hopefully, Washington will have run them down a little,” Cano said.
If not, the Anteaters certainly have the capabilities to do so. They return Nicole Bucciarelli and Tracie Manz, their top two scorers, plus midfielder Simone Ferrara. In all, seven starters return from a 13-7-2 team that lost to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the Big West Tournament championship game.
“We’ve been young for two years,” Cano said. “We’ve made little mistakes because of immaturity. Now, inexperience is no longer an excuse.”
Cano did inject some youth--and speed--into the team. Freshman forward Stephanie Rigamat, who scored 102 goals in four seasons at Thousand Oaks High School, will make it more difficult to mark Bucciarelli and Manz.
“You mark Bucciarelli and Manz and in comes Rigamat,’ Cano said. “End of discussion.”
The one big question is who will be the goalkeeper? Stephanie Boes graduated, leaving the job to either junior Jennifer La Femina or freshman Kirsten Roy (Aliso Niguel). Roy, one of the top keepers in Southern California last year, has been slowed because of a knee injury.
The men’s soccer team will host a free clinic Saturday at Westhaven Park in Garden Grove, from 2-3 p.m. Players will teach skills to kids 18 and younger.
For more information call: (714) 644-0498.
The UC Irvine Notebook runs weekly during the school year. Suggestions are welcome. Call (714) 966-5904 or e-mail Chris.Foster@latimes.com
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Here is a look at key events this week for UC Irvine:
* Cross-country competes in the Cal State Fullerton Invitational on Saturday. The men begin at 9 a.m. and the women at 9:30 a.m.
* Women’s soccer hosts Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m. Friday and Cal State Northridge at 1 p.m. Sunday.
* Women’s volleyball plays in the Nevada Las Vegas Tournament Friday and Saturday.