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Two games played, two game-winning goals for Kopf

Sisters help No. 17-ranked UC Irvine start season 2-0 

    UC-Irvine forward Lexi Kopf gave a simple explanation as to why she scored the game-winning goal against University of Texas-San Antonio last Friday.
    “It was a 107 degrees,” she said, “and I did not want to go into overtime.”
    With under three minutes to play in College Station, Texas, and the contest tied 1-1, Kopf and her teammates were attacking.

    “The ball just crossed in, and bounced off several players,” explained Kopf. “And I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The ball was right in front of me (four yards from the goal) and I rocketed it into the goal.”
    Amongst those celebrating was twin-sister (and fellow former Sonora Wildcat) Jordan Kopf, who had played 25 strong minutes at forward for UC-Irvine in the contest.
    “We’re on the road in Texas, playing a strong team (UTSA made the NCAA playoffs in 2010), it’s 107 degrees, and we knew we deserved this game,” said Jordan. “So after Lexi’s goal, our whole team was excited and high-fiving, we went crazy.”
    This 2-1 Anteater win was UC-Irvine’s first 2011 regular-season contest.
    “We work as a team so hard on our fitness,” said Jordan. “And for a first game of a new season you couldn’t face a tougher test than those hot conditions on the road. But we kept battling and battling them and kept putting pressure on them.”
    “Jordan played awesome,” said Lexi. “She created a lot of opportunities for us and she got a shot on goal. When their defenders tried advancing, Jordan was shutting them down.”
    On Sunday, UC-Irvine, currently ranked No. 17 in the nation, faced No. 11 Texas A&M. Again the contest was played in College Station. Only this time the game was played in front of 1,574 Aggie fanatics.
    “And these fans were intense,” said Jordan. “They were chanting at us, heckling our goalie. We couldn’t even hear our own coach. Their whole town is so into sports so it was exciting to play them.”
    And beat ‘em.
    Before the contest was eight minutes old, Lexi Kopf was racing toward the Aggie’s net.
    “It was a cross from the right side,” said Lexi, “and my friend (midfielder) Devon Delarosa, who was on my left, yells, ‘Let it go! Let it Go! I got it.’ ”
    Lexi was six yards from the goal when the ball met up with her.
    “The funny thing is,” said Lexi, “I think their goalie, who was right in front of me, thought I would let it go because Devon was yelling for it. But I definitely had to take a chance at this ball.”
    Well you know what happened.
    Lexi Kopf, the greatest goal-scorer in Sonora history, blasted that ball deep into the goal — and the Anteaters led 1-0.
    There were no more scores in the final 82 minutes of play and UC-Irvine pulled off its most significant road win in school history. No Anteater squad had ever defeated a team on the road ranked higher than No. 11 Texas A&M.
    And for Lexi Kopf, it was her second straight game-winning goal.
    “Well,” she said, “I really had no idea it was gonna be the game-winner because that goal came so quickly in the contest. I was hoping that we’d score a lot more. But that was one cool feeling beating Texas A&M on their field, in such a tough environment.”
    Lexi earned Big West “Offensive Player of the Week” honors. She was also one of those selected as “National Player of the Week” by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
    “I’m just glad I was able to help our team win,” said Lexi. “We have a team that feels it has a lot to prove. We lost a lot of seniors from last season, but we feel we can do just as well or better than last year.”
    The Kopfs and UC-Irvine made the Sweet 16 in 2010 for the first time in school history.
    Lexi and Jordan are both seniors and each has been a “UCI-Scholar Athlete” honoree the past three years.
    “I really want to enjoy this last season of soccer,” said Jordan. “My goal is to contribute wherever I can, whether that’s cheering on my teammates or playing.”
    Said Lexi, “I think we can go all the way in the NCAAs. We just beat the No. 11 team which means that there’s 10 teams in front of us right now. I don’t see any reason why we can’t beat every one of them. It will take a lot of hard work. But this team of ours is willing to put in that hard work.”

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