Men's soccer one week away from exhibition opener

Senior Johnny Gonzalez will
co-captain the side in his
final season in a Spartan uniform.
San Jose, Calif. – The San Jose State University men’s soccer team is one week away from its one and only exhibition contest prior to the 2005 season.

The Spartans host UC Santa Cruz, the 2004 NCAA Division III national runner-up, in an exhibition next Friday evening, August 26, at Spartan Stadium beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Head coach Gary St. Clair, now entering his 16th season in charge, named seniors Johnny Gonzalez and Dylan Pender as co-captains for the 2005 season. Gonzalez is a three-time All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selection who has 18 goals and eight assists as a Spartan heading into his final campaign, while Pender anchors the defensive unit.

St. Clair put his players through a trio of "triple days" to kick off training, August 14-16. Since Wednesday, August 17, the Spartans have been holding "double days". Double practices continue through Saturday, August 20, with two-hour sessions at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The squad will not practice on Sunday, August 21.

"I think we turned a bit of a corner the last 24 hours or so," says St. Clair. "The players are starting to implement the concepts of the new system pretty well. We had three good sessions (in a row). The new system was introduced a little bit during the spring season, but not entirely. Our new players are here now and I am pleased with what they are picking up.

"We are going to a defensive system of a zonal 4-4-2 this season after playing a 3-5-2 last year. Our players are better suited this year to perform in different roles. We are ahead of schedule, but the real test will come in live games."

All SJSU soccer practices are at Spartan Field and are open to the public. The Spartan women’s team will play its regular-season opener immediately following the men’s exhibition with UC Santa Cruz, against UC Irvine at 7:30 p.m.

The Spartan men open the 2005 regular season on Thursday, September 1, playing host to Stanford in a non-conference match at Spartan Stadium. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.