Pasadena City College water polo player Makenzie Blank, left, will look to lead a deep Lancers team after she earned a South Coast Conference first-team selection in 2011.

Pasadena City College water polo player Makenzie Blank, left, will look to lead a deep Lancers team after she earned a South Coast Conference first-team selection in 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / August 18, 2012)

PASADENA — While optimism is usually expected before the start of any season, at Pasadena City College, the upcoming fall 2012 season is one in which there is reason for hope. As the season begins Aug. 31, the Lancers will have an opportunity to turn wishful thinking into success with talented players in each of the following sports.

The following are previews of the upcoming season for Pasadena City College’s fall athletic programs.


There were certainly flashes of brilliance last season for a squad that was almost entirely made up of freshman and finished 11-17 overall and in sixth place in the rugged South Coast Conference with a conference mark of 4-6.

Pasadena showed some moxie in recovering from a 3-8 start to rally to .500, at 10-10, behind a season-high four-match winning streak from Oct. 15-21. Yet, the Lancers faltered the rest of the way, losing seven of eight contests.

Perhaps the memories of last year will serve a squad that only graduated one player, driver Rebecca Iraheta, and returns eight sophomores, including South Coast Conference first-team selections Makenzie Blank and Shelby Gregg.

“This is one of the deepest teams here in quite a while,” 14-year Lancers Coach Terry Stoddard said. “There are only seven starting positions, but all eight returners and two newcomers will play a significant role on this team. This team has 10 strong, formidable players.”

Blank is back at the utility position after leading the Lancers with a team-high 79 goals, third-best in the conference, which accompanied her 30 steals and 17 assists. As for Gregg, the savvy goalie also returns after finishing third in the conference in saves (191) and tied for fourth with Chaffey’s Jaci Cochrane with a team-best 69 steals.

“Shelby understands the game and plays the field as well. She knows how to play the perimeter, she can defense the two-meter,” Stoddard said. “Overall, she is our best athlete and understands the game best.”

Pasadena also welcomes back SCC second-team two-meter attacker Milene Minassians (37 steals, 34 goals and 21 assists) and second-team utility player Paloma Barrera, who finished fourth in the conference with 33 assists that accompanied her 30 goals and 16 assists.

Two newcomers worth keeping an eye out for are Citrus College transfer Ashley Griffin-Gonzales and freshman driver Marisa Rack.

“If you look at the way we start off our schedule in the Saddleback Tournament with Long Beach, Chaffey and Cerritos, those teams finished 1-2-3 [in the conference standings],” Stoddard said. “We’ll know after that tournament where we stand and I think we’ll do well.”


Reality showed no mercy to the Lancers last season after Pasadena started the year with an impressive 6-1-1 mark that included a 3-1 victory over Compton College in the SCC opener on Sept. 27.

Then, “the real season” started, as Pasadena dove into the SCC season and only won one match over its final 13 contests in finishing with a 7-10-4 overall mark and placing seventh in conference.

“We started really well last year, but we didn’t play the types of teams we needed to to get ready for league,” said Lancers Coach Edgar Manvelyan, who also serves as the La Salle High girls’ soccer coach. “This year, it’s going to be different. This year we’re playing top-10 teams because we want to finish stronger than last year.”

The drawback for Pasadena in 2012 is a graduated Gor Kirakosyan, who took his SCC first-team accolade, 14 goals and six assists with him to UC Irvine. Pasadena midfielder Ryosuke Tarui (four goals and five assists), an SCC second-teamer, is also gone.

With both Kirakosyan and Tarui having left, former Muir High standout and SCC honorable mention Irving Rosales now slides into the leadership role.

The forward tied with Kirakosyan for the team lead with 14 goals while Rosales added four assists. Overall, Kirakosyan was the conference’s third-leading scorer, while Rosales was fifth.