Men's soccer opens preseason training camp

San Jose, Calif. - San Jose State University men’s soccer coach Gary St. Clair and his staff have gone back to square one as the 2006 squad opened training camp this week. After just three days of practice, the coaching staff wants to see how many of its new players are ready to compete at the Division I level.

“We’re trying to lay a foundation by working on the basics right now,” said St. Clair, who enters his 17th season as head coach.

“We have such a young and inexperienced team, and we are just working on the basics right now, trying to implement our defensive schemes, and trying to get a lot of our players to understand what playing at this level is all about.”

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS


St. Clair and his staff have been stressing the art of defense this first week. In 2005, an experienced squad played in seven overtime games, and did not record a loss in any of those matches.

“What we talk about and stress is that defense wins championships across the board,” said St. Clair, whose squad will be without seven starters from a year ago.

“We have to be tight defensively. We are trying to get the players both individually and a team sense to understand how important defense is. Especially with how young our group is, it’s an area where we have to be sound. That is one of the things we were very good at last season.”

TEACHING AND COACHING

The coaching staff is still excited about the upcoming season, and looks to be more hands-on as pre-season camp continues. The team is going through 1.5 hour to two-hour practices each day, with at least two practices a day.

“It’s a completely different situation from last season,” said St. Clair, who is joined by assistant coaches Ron Smare, who is in his 17th season with the program, and Chris Behler, who is in his fourth season with the Spartans.

“We are coaches, but we are teachers first. We have to do a lot more teaching, where with a veteran group you’re more or less allowing the players to get comfortable with the system.

The Spartans open their season next Friday with an exhibition match against Cal State Monterey Bay at 7:00 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. The regular season home opener against Cal State Fullerton is scheduled for Sunday, August 27 at 1:00 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.