Leonardo Cuellar has had success with the Cal State L.A. men's soccer team, coaching the Eagles to a 40-14-6 record over the past three seasons. Now, the former Mexico World Cup star will try to carry over that success to the first-year women's program at Cal State L.A.
"Our goal is to build a solid base that will enable the women's program to be nationally competitive within three to four years," said Cuellar, who will coach both the men's and women's teams this fall.
Junior college transfers figure to weigh heavily in the Golden Eagles' success or failure in their inaugural season.
Defender Tina Estrada, midfielders Elizabeth Graves and Shelby White and goalkeeper Gloria Caloca are from Mt. San Antonio College. Defender Eria Roberge, who helped Arcadia High to four consecutive Pacific League titles, is from Cypress College.
Goalkeeper Colleen Sharkey, defender Natalie Cota and forward Kim Compton are freshmen from Palos Verdes Peninsula, Ontario and Rosemead highs, respectively.
"We've brought in a good mix of junior college and high school players," Cuellar said. "The experience the junior college players bring should help us to be competitive quickly while the younger players form the base for future success."
The Cal State L.A. men will be banking on youth to reach the NCAA Division II playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Eight of last year's starters from a 15-4-2 team were either freshmen or sophomores.
"We've come a long way since last season and we learned just what areas we need to improve," Cuellar said. "I said at the beginning of last season that we had a very talented team with tremendous potential but I think we were surprised by how quickly the team came together."
Defender Dario Gomez and goalkeeper Claine Plummer, both juniors, and sophomore midfielder Victor Arana were named to the All-California Collegiate Athletic Conference first team last season after helping the Golden Eagles to a second-place conference finish.
Arana tallied eight goals and five assists in 19 matches and Plummer maintained a goals-against average of 0.50 for most of the season.
Dino Torres, the only senior starter, had 10 goals and two assists last season and junior Esteben Chavez led the Golden Eagles with seven assists.
The Cal State L.A. women's volleyball team, seeking its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II postseason tournament, will open the season against the Latvia national team at home Sept. 2.
Seniors Andrea Ferchaw, Kaili Kimura and Adriana Huerta head a list of eight returners, including five starters, from last year's 24-4 team that which reached the NCAA Division II Western Regional final and finished second in the CCAA standings at 9-3.
Ferchaw, a two-time All-American outside hitter, holds school records with 575 kills in a season and career digs. Kimura, a middle blocker, holds school records for attack percentage in a season and career, and the led the Golden Eagles in block assists last season. Huerta, a graduate of Roosevelt High and an all-region selection as a junior, owns all of Cal State L.A.'s setting records.
Cal State L.A. plays a tough early schedule, which includes matches against nationally ranked Hawaii-Hilo, Portland State and Michigan Tech before starting CCAA play.
The Golden Eagles suffered three of its four losses against CCAA champion and national runner-up Cal State Bakersfield. "Our first goal is to win conference," said sixth-year Coach Mark Massey, who has a record of 102-60 at Cal State L.A. "Those early season matches will let us know how we match up nationally. We feel if we are good enough to challenge for the CCAA title then we will be good enough to challenge for the top two or three spots at nationals."
Other returners include seniors Lisa Henderson and Wendy Dreher, sophomores Julie Christina, Julie Hicks and Nancy Flores.
April Lee and Jennifer Macias are transfers from Fresno City and Cerritos Colleges. Monica Salcedo is a freshman from La Mirada High.