Colleges: Taylor bound for Boston

Tanya Taylor had no one to hug. There was no stage to ascend to, no handshake with the commissioner and no team cap or jersey to dawn.

When the UC Irvine senior was chosen by the Boston Breakers with the 24th and final pick of the Women's Professional Soccer draft Friday, she didn't even get the pleasure of instant gratification.

"I was following the draft online and I was pretty nervous," said Taylor, a forward who had 11 goals and 12 assists to earn third-team All-American, as well as Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors in a historic season that saw UCI finish 19-3-2. "And when the last pick was announced, my computer actually froze, so I didn't see it until I refreshed the page a couple minutes later."

Taylor, whose prolific production helped the Anteaters win their first Big West regular-season title and make the program's inaugural trip to the NCAA Tournament, in which they reached the Sweet 16, said she chose to learn of her professional fate all alone.

"I was so nervous, I wanted to be by myself," said Taylor, who had enrolled in 20 units this quarter with the aim of graduating in June. "When I saw my name come up, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately there was no one there to share it with."

Taylor said she called her parents immediately, then fielded a stream of congratulatory calls from UCI coaches and teammates. She also had a phone conversation with Breakers Coach Tony DiCicco, though she said she is awaiting word on when she will report to try and make the team's roster.

It is likely that her duties in Boston will force her to drop her class load and postpone graduating. It's a decision Taylor never thought she would have to make.

"Honestly, coming into college, I never pictured myself playing after college," said Taylor, who had 13 goals and nine assists combined in her first three collegiate seasons. "But, after the season we had this year, it became a possibility. I always wanted to do this, but I didn't know if I'd have the option or not."

Taylor also said that without UCI's breakthrough success, she might not have had to endure a sleepless Thursday night before the draft.

"I think our team success was a huge factor in my individual recognition," Taylor said.

The No, 7-ranked UCI men's volleyball team, coming off a home sweep of No. 5 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, will play host to No. 1-ranked USC on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Bren Events Center.

The Anteaters are making an online push to try to fill the 5,000-seat arena for the rematch of the 2009 NCAA final won by UCI at BYU.

UCI rebounded from a dismal four-game home loss to UC San Diego on Wednesday that dropped their record to 2-3, by trouncing the Gauchos to improve to 3-3, 1-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

USC, which along with UCI was picked to win the MPSF in the preseason coaches' poll, enters 2-0, with both matches coming in conference play.

The Vanguard University baseball team, coming off a strong campaign in which it qualified for the NAIA Tournament for the first time since 1985, opens its season Jan. 25 at home against La Sierra.

Coach Ralph Grajeda's Lions will benefit from the help of first-year pitching coach Jerry Spradlin, who spent seven seasons in the major leagues, ending in 2000. He posted 17 wins, 11 saves and a career earned-run average of 4.75 for six teams.

"He has been a great pickup," said Grajeda, who was put in touch with Spradlin through former Vanguard (then Southern California College) coach Charlie Phillips.

"First of all [Spradlin] has no ego whatsoever and is very down to earth," said Grajeda, entering his third season at the Lions' helm. "But he has that major-league experience and he goes in there and teaches the game. He showed our guys a couple times during intra-squad games, when he took the bump and just carved us. He has done it and you want to listen to what he has to say."

UCI senior men's standout Amani Walker is expected to be among 54 players selected in the Major League Soccer supplemental draft today.

Walker, whose 11 goals and two assists in 2010 helped him share Big West Offensive Player of the Year honors, had been expected to go in the 54-player SuperDraft held Thursday.

The UCI women's basketball team suffered its first two home losses last week, falling to Big West rivals UCSB on Thursday and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Saturday.

Coach Molly Goodenbour's Anteaters are 11-6, 3-2 in conference, and sit in a three-way tie for third with UC Davis and UCSB, behind Cal Poly (5-0 in conference) and UC Riverside (3-1).

Goodenbour said after Saturday's 72-70 setback to Cal Poly that her team is still very much in the thick of the race.

"I told our kids, I don't think anybody is going to go through this undefeated," Goodenbour said. "We need to regroup and play the way we practice."

UCSB Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said the top of the conference standings figure to be a logjam this season.

"This is as balanced as the Big West has been since I've been here [her third season] and even since I've been a student of the conference when I was in the Pac 10 [at Cal]. It's good. Obviously, the Santa Barbara fans want us to dominant and I would love for us to dominate."

Gottlieb also had high praise for UCI.

"Molly has raised the bar here, between bringing in players that are good, and instilling a culture that gets things done. That's going to make us work harder."

Bad news on the injury front continues for the Vanguard University women's basketball program. Coach Russ Davis said Monday that TJ Goddard, a sophomore transfer from Utah State, has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Goddard had 18 points in 27 minutes during an overtime home loss to Golden State Athletic Conference-leading Cal Baptist on Jan. 8. But she sustained the injury late in that game, only her fourth of the season.

Davis said additional injuries, as well as the loss of freshman Angelica Sahagun, who has left the program, have forced him to change his offense to a more traditional scheme, overhauling the driving, penetration-based plan he had been using with an abundance of slashing guards.

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