Golden Eagles land first national ranking, head to playoffs
October 27, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) La Sierra University, for the first time in its history, is sending two of its Golden Eagles sports teams to a national-level playoff series next month.
The Golden Eagles volleyball and men’s soccer teams will contend with other teams in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Independent playoffs the second week of November in Phoenix, Ariz. and Thomasville, Ga., respectively. To top it off, the volleyball team, on Oct. 25, outplayed 15th-ranked California State University, San Marcos, 3-1, a huge win for La Sierra. Golden Eagles volleyball as of Oct. 27 held a win-loss record of 19-2. The soccer team on Oct. 19 also beat CSUSM’s Cougars 3-1 and currently holds a 10-5 record. Both teams face respective last games on Oct. 27 against Multnomah Bible College and on Oct. 30 against Chapman University.
The university scored its first hot field goal with its sports programs last month when on Sept. 14 Golden Eagles soccer ranked 24th in the nation by the NAIA, the school’s first national placement.
“The team was really excited about it,” said Dakota Shelton, a freshman history major who plays center defense. “We were excited that our hard work is paying off.”
The NAIA, which La Sierra joined last year, has approximately 300 college and university members around the United States and Canada. La Sierra completed a provisional year before launching into full NAIA member status this school year.
As a fledgling NAIA member, the university is getting off to a strong start with hopes set on making the independent NAIA championships this year. A series of new recruits are expected to help propel the Golden Eagles toward greater successes beyond last year’s high-performing achievements.
Golden Eagles volleyball recruited 10 new players this year from Sierra College in Rocklin, Los Alamitos High School, La Sierra High School, Norte Vista High School, Summit High School, Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Glendale College, San Francisco College and Southwestern College in Chula Vista.
“Team success can be attributed to the hard work, dedication, motivation and [team members’] love for each other. They are a very close team. They call each other sisters,” said Head Coach Erin Conley. “Most of all they all desire the same thing--to better themselves, to better the program.”
Conley says she leads with “encouragement, praise and love for my players and the game. I instill in them to never settle for what has happened, win or lose, that we always strive to do our best and that when we have practice or a game we always take it to the next level.”
Samantha Arriaran, a senior sociology major from Norco and a top-playing setter for the volleyball team is considering playing the sport overseas after graduation and coaching. In an interview earlier this month she said the team is excited about its performance, “but our coach keeps reminding us our record doesn’t mean anything until the last game of the season.”
“On the court we’re always sisters,” added team defensive specialist Nikki Cheong, a senior pre-physical therapy major from San Francisco. “Off the court we’re always together. I don’t think women can play together if they don’t like each other.”