By Michael Zavala
The men’s and women’s soccer teams’ seasons came to an abrupt
end Oct. 29 when their final games of the season against UC San
Diego were canceled.
Athletic Director Brian Swanson spoke with UC San Diego’s
athletic department the evening before, and after weighing the
options, he elected to cancel the games, which had already been
delayed from their original Oct. 28 date due to wildfires in San
“After taking a look at everything, we knew the vast majority of
student-athletes had classes and midterms on [Oct. 29],” said
Swanson. “Our utmost concern was to balance academics and athletics
and to ensure we’d be safeguarding both.”
Other issues such as the part-time status of assistant coaches
and difficulty obtaining adequate transportation to San Diego were
also part of the decision, according to Swanson.
Last Tuesday, Robert Hiegert, the commissioner of the CCAA,
ruled that no points would be awarded to UC San Diego for the
Some players on both teams were upset they were unable to finish
not only their season but also their careers at Cal Poly.
“As a senior, to not be able to play our last game, it’s
unimaginable,” said senior Stephanie Mrazik. “There’s no
Senior Ben Van der Fluit said he was disappointed with how
everything turned out.
“Overall, it’s a tough thing to deal with,” said Van der Fluit.
“I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to put on a Cal Poly jersey
Paul Caligiuri, head coach of the men’s soccer team, also
expressed dissatisfaction with how the situation ultimately
“That this is the way the season ended is probably the most
frustrating thing,” said Caligiuri.
Questions about the game arose when wildfires broke out in San
Diego County. UC San Diego’s campus was closed from Oct. 22 to Oct.
UC San Diego’s athletic department addressed the situation by
releasing a statement Oct. 25 that said its games against Cal Poly
would still be played Oct. 28, pending an air quality check.
Communication with UC San Diego was difficult due to the
circumstances. Cal Poly had no part in the air check, according to
Head Athletic Trainer Ruem Malasarn, but it kept up with the latest
information via the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s
Web site, which provides links to maps displaying air quality in
regions across the U.S.
Air quality in the La Jolla area was deemed moderate, but
Swanson received a call from UC San Diego’s athletic department at
6:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 and was informed the university’s doctors
wouldn’t clear RIMAC Fields for competition.
“I was surprised,” said Swanson. “They gave us a pretty good
idea that we’d play on schedule.”
Swanson offered to play at Cal State Dominguez Hills’ Toro
Stadium, which would act as a neutral field, but the proposal was
not taken up. Concessions had already been made with other sports –
UC San Diego’s volleyball team had practiced in Darlene May Gym
before its game against Cal Poly Oct. 26.
UC San Diego’s athletic department could not be reached for
A decision was then reached to postpone the games to Oct. 29.
Swanson checked with Caligiuri and the head coach of the women’s
soccer team, Isabelle Harvey, to make sure the players could get
their Monday classes cleared so they could play. Attempts to push
the game back further were unsuccessful, as UC San Diego played Cal
State San Bernardino Oct. 30 and any other game would have been too
close to the California Collegiate Athletic Association
“In week two it would’ve been a non-issue,” said Swanson.
“Unfortunately, we schedule the maximum number of games we can play
because of circumstances … Our schedule is developed with [the
student-athletes’] academic curriculum in mind.”
Some of the soccer players disagree with Swanson’s decision to
cancel the games for academic reasons, saying that it wasn’t a
problem. According to the four seniors, most of the players on both
teams had cleared their Monday classes.
“Everyone who had class that day had explained to their
professors that the situation was out of their control,” said
senior Peter Hazdovac. “Obviously the fires are the number one
priority and our health is important. I would have understood if
that was the reason [for canceling the games].”
Not being able to play one last time in front of their families,
some of who were ready to travel to San Diego for the game, also
hurt some of the players.
There is also concern among some players about the decision
because they believe it sends a bad message about Cal Poly.
“Because we’re not going to be in the playoffs, then there is no
reason to play the game anymore is how it came off to the players,”
said Hazdovac. “It kind of felt like the student-athletes didn’t
Swanson said that while he knew both teams were mathematically
eliminated from the playoffs, that knowledge didn’t factor into his
The perceived lack of control has wounded the pride of some
“You feel like you’ve given so much to the program and the
school and you’ve built up so much pride as a part of the team and
as a leader,” said Van der Fluit, a co-captain of the men’s soccer
team along with Hazdovac. “It hurts most that it feels like that
pride has been ripped away a bit.”
Adding to the confusion on the part of players is the way they
first found out about the canceled games. Many on the men’s team
were informed because of a note on Caligiuri’s door, and Van der
Fluit didn’t hear about it until 10 a.m. when his friend Josh Levy,
who is a captain on UC San Diego’s soccer team, called to tell him
“What bothers us is that [Swanson’s] been there for us many
times before,” said Mrazik. “He could’ve talked to us and explained
it from his point of view.”
Unfortunately, there seemed to be no way for everything to
resolve itself cleanly.
“There was no win-win situation,” said Harvey. “I’m very upset;
I want [Cal Poly] to play more than anything.”
Seniors Ben Van der Fluit, Lindsey Latham, Stephanie Mrazik and Peter Hazdovac’s careers were cut short when Cal Poly’s soccer matches against UC San Diego were canceled.
Questions arise after cancellation of soccer games
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