UC Irvine returns to the NCAA Tournament for a second year in a row after winning its fourth consecutive Big West Tournament. Leading the Anteaters to prominence in the pool is Dan Klatt. The head coach is wrapping up his eighth season at his alma mater.
UC Irvine is the fourth seed in this year’s tournament. The Anteaters have dominated the Big West in recent years. What does the program need to do to move into the next tier and challenge a UCLA, Stanford or USC?
Klatt: We need to keep getting better every day and keep our focus. We can’t afford to look forward to anything beyond that. We have plenty of things improve upon between now and then. We cannot get complacent and be satisfied with where we are today.
Jessy Cardey has been your offensive leader as she already has fifty-eight goals in the regular season. What makes her a special offensive player?
Klatt: Jessy has great vision and an excellent arm. She sees the cage very well and has been the recipient of some outstanding passes from her teammates. She often returns the favor as she is one of our team’s leaders in assists as well.
Hannah Croghan and Danielle Warde are both stuffing the stat sheet. What makes them such dangerous players for the Anteaters?
Coach Klatt: Hannah has had a really good season. While not big in stature, she is an aggressive player who is plays with a lot of confidence. She is very creative and assertive and she applies and understands everything she is taught. Danielle is probably our most well-rounded player. She produces a lot of steals defensively and is very active on the counter. Danielle draws the toughest defensive matchup every game and has proved she is willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team win.
Kate Avetoom and Jillian Yocum are splitting time in the cage for your team and it is working out. Can you tell us a little about that? There is that old saying ‘if somebody is playing two goalies it means they don’t have one.’
Coach Klatt: Both goalies are performing on an equal level. Both have stepped up to help our team win. It can be tough to share the role, but the players and coaches have confidence in their ability to perform when it is their time to command the defense.