Spartans Set To Begin 2000 Season In New Conference

AUGUST 22, 2000

This week: The San Jose State University men's soccer team kicks off the 2000 season this Friday, Aug. 25, hosting UC Santa Cruz in a 7:30 p.m. exhibition contest at Spartan Stadium.

The first counting match for the Spartans is at 1:00 p.m. next Friday, Sept. 1, vs. Cal State San Bernardino, also at Spartan Stadium.

Head Coach Gary St. Clair: Gary St. Clair is beginning his 11th season as San Jose State's head coach. His career record is 85-96-13 (.438). Last season the Spartans finished with a 7-11-2 overall record, 4-6-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.

Spartans join MPSF: San Jose State has joined the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for men's soccer. The Spartans will compete in the Mountain Division of the MSPF. The other teams in the division are Air Force, University of Denver, Sacramento State and Fresno State. The Pacific Division includes UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, UNLV, New Mexico, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, UC Irvine and San Diego State.

The top two teams from each division will advance to the conference playoffs, to be hosted by the Pacific Division champion. The first round of the playoffs will be held on Nov. 10 with the championship game on Nov. 12. The winner of the Nov. 12 match will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA playoffs.

Season outlook: The return of several outstanding players and joining the new conference has St. Clair feeling "cautiously optimistic" about the 2000 season. "If all of our players are back and eligible, we should have a very good year," said St. Clair, who is entering his 11th year as the Spartans' head coach.

After four years in the Western Athletic Conference, the Spartans will compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation this season. "We're all excited about being a part of the new conference," St. Clair said.

The Spartans will be led by six players whom St. Clair says are among the top players on the west coast. Those include Ryan Suarez, Jorge Martinez, Lars Lyssand, Chris Humphreys, Dan Fife and Isaias Bardales. "They certainly will be the nucleus. If they stay healthy we should do well," St. Clair said.

Suarez scored three goals and added an assist from his defender position. Named San Jose State's Most Valuable Player in 1999, he received first-team all-conference honors last year after being named to the all-WAC second team in 1998.

Martinez tallied two goals and two assists last year. A midfielder, he was the WAC Co-Freshman of the Year and the Spartans' Offensive Player of the Year in 1997.

Lyssand, another midfielder, scored one goal and added three assists last fall. He was a second team all-conference pick last year.

Humphreys started nine times and played in 10 of San Jose State's 20 games last year at goalkeeper. He recorded 34 saves while allowing 17 goals. "Chris Humphreys is going to be a real key for us," St. Clair said.

Fife, the Defensive Player of the Year for the Spartans last season, scored one goal and recorded one assist.

Bardales, a midfielder, is the top returning scorer from last year (six goals and three assists). He was the Co-Freshman of the Year in the WAC and a first-team all-conference pick, and was named SJSU's Newcomer of the Year. "Isaias is going to have to play well for us," said St. Clair.

St. Clair says the midfield should be very strong with Martinez and Lyssand, but admits his team is "going to need to find goals from somebody. Isaias (Bardales) is going to have to play well for us." The Spartans graduated Aman Kebreab, who led the team with eight goals and 17 points last year. Two other losses were Craig Murphy and Chad Harper, who had five goals between them.

So, says the Spartan coach, some of the younger players and new recruits will need to contribute, mentioning returnee Frank Sanfilippo and newcomers Vinney Matteoli, Francisco Martinez and Gonzalo Guerra as players he's counting on this season.

"We need to stay healthy," concluded St. Clair. "The real key for us is to stay healthy."