UC Merced wasn’t exactly Andy Galvan’s dream destination.
The central defender had hopes of continuing his soccer career after high school, but the financial aid from the schools interested wasn’t enough.
UCM was a choice of pragmatism as opposed to love. That stance changed over the course of Galvan’s time on campus.
“I chose UC Merced because I didn’t have a lot of money to spend and they offered the best financial aid,” Galvan said. “The school didn’t even have a soccer team my first year on campus. It all seems like it was meant to be now. The program started up my sophomore year, and we’ve only gotten better in the four years since then.”
Galvan became the heart of a Bobcats defense that allowed just 22 goals in 18 games and seven goals in 12 conference tilts. He was named the California Pacific Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” Galvan said. “It’s nice to be recognized for my contribution, but the ultimate goal this season was to win a conference title. I’d gladly give up the award if it meant the team had reached our goals. I’m still amazed at how far we’ve come as a team in such a short time. When we first started up, I never would have thought we’d be battling for the playoffs and winning conference awards every year.
“It feels good to leave the program knowing it’s one of the top teams.”
Galvan wasn’t the only UCM center back to make noise in their senior campaign. Desiree Coles was given an extra season after missing the 2013 campaign because of mononucleosis.
Coles made the most of the opportunity, showing off her all-around game. She anchored one of the nation’s top back lines that allowed just 10 goals this season. Coles also found her offensive touch, finishing with a career-high three goals and nine points.
She was named the women’s soccer Cal Pac Defensive Player of the Year.
“It’s what I worked hard for the past few years,” Coles said. “It’s nice to get recognition, but this is a team game and I don’t have the success I had without the rest of the defense around me. I had the choice to be done or come back and play one more year with my best friends. It was the best decision I could have made.”
UCM had 14 players acknowledged with postseason awards between the two programs.
Men’s coach Albert Martins was named Cal Pac Coach of the Year, while Artemio Contreras and Cruz Trenado were named to the first team. Brennen Canfield, Brian Chongtoua and Cody Golbad received second-team nods and goalkeeper Alan Ochoa received honorable mention.
Coles was joined on the women’s first team by fellow seniors Elizabeth Cruz and Veronica Villacorta. Daisy Bonilla and Sydney Lund were named to the second team and Ashley Bennett was given honorable mention.
UC Merced came up empty in major awards but still had seven players recognized by the Cal Pac.
Rachael Schaefer, the 2015 Player of the Year, earned a second-team nod after leading the Bobcats in kills for the third straight season. Dominique Andrews, Genesis Hester, Brooke Wheeler, Cassandra Diaz, Jaysonna Johnson and Jade Fachin received honorable mention.
The Merced College men’s basketball team entered this season with eight victories in the last five years. The Blue Devils (4-2) are halfway to that total six games into the season. It’s the program’s best start since 2006-07.
Sophomores Deonta Woodard (16.7 points per game), Jose Gonzalez (15.8 points) and Anthony Nolen (13.8 points) have led the charge. As welcome as the wins are, Merced’s most impressive showing may have come in a 92-89 loss to preseason state No. 1 San Francisco City.