San Jose, Calif. - A main concern for head coach Gary St. Clair going into the 2008 season was where the scoring would come from for his Spartans after losing his top two strikers who had combined for 15 goals a year ago.
So far, problem solved.
In its debut inside Spartan Stadium on Friday night, August 22, San Jose State gave a good impression that scoring may not be an issue after all, finding the back of the net four times within a span of five minutes and 53 seconds late in the first half and cruising to a 5-0 exhibition victory over visiting UC Santa Cruz.
The first two goals, and one assist, came from Efrain Burgos, Jr., with fellow sophomore Ricky Dorrego adding a goal and three assists.
Colby Moore and Robert Jackson scored the final two goals for the Spartans, with San Jose native Richard Mann, fellow senior Lewis Sweeney and redshirt freshman Tyler Newman combining on the shutout in goal. Mann, a fifth-year Spartan and second-year captain, started and played the first 27:30, with Sweeney in net for the next 31:02 and Newman on for the final 31:28. All three were credited with a single save, with Newman going down to his left to stop a second-half penalty kick and keep the clean sheet intact.
The first half an hour looked largely like last year’s exhibition meeting between the sides at Spartan Stadium that ended in a 0-0 draw. UC Santa Cruz, an independent member of the NCAA Division III and a program that has made five straight post-season appearances, had the best scoring chance during that span, in the seventh minute, with Mann diving low to his right to grab a hold of Kenny Johnson’s close-range effort.
In the 10th minute, junior midfielder Nick Cukar stole an outlet pass by UCSC goalie Brandon Brooks, sped down the left flank and put a cross into the penalty box that Burgos one-timed with the inside of his right foot, only for the shot to seemingly skim the far post and go wide of goal.
A 22nd-minute shot from long distance by redshirt freshman Dan Addiego attracted the first save of the evening by Brooks, before San Jose State began its late-period offensive onslaught.
At 35:09, Dorrego got in on the right wing and gave a short cross that Burgos guided into the left corner of the net. Less than two and a half minutes later, the Spartans gained a free kick from just outside the penalty area on the left that Burgos expertly shot past Brooks and into the near side of the goal.
In the 40th minute, Dorrego gathered the ball in the middle of the field in the Spartans’ offensive third, saw an opening and fired a left-footed rocket that beat Brooks to his left from 20 yards out.
To round out the half, Moore benefited from great combination play as Dorrego found Burgos on the left, and the latter crossed for the Bellarmine Prep product to tap into the open net on the far post at 41:02.
Jackson, a redshirt freshman, and at 5-foot-6, one of the shortest players on the Spartan roster, leapt high to head in the fifth and final goal of the contest at the 59:05 mark. Dorrego took a corner kick from the right that was deflected back to him by a defender, and the San Jose native out of Lincoln High School then immediately put in a cross for Jackson at the back post.
A total of 11 Spartans made their unofficial collegiate debut on the night, including all nine redshirts from a year ago. Addiego, Boyah Kaar and Josh Boemecke, a sophomore transfer from Saint Louis University, earned starts at right back, center back and midfield, respectively. Jackson was a first-half substitute, with fellow redshirt freshmen Sky Cutler, Kachiside Madu and Brent Young, as well as true freshman Oscar Yniguez, coming on at the break. Two more redshirt freshmen, Aria Vossoughi and Archbishop Mitty High School product Justin Castro, entered the match together in the 54th minute, ahead of Newman in the 59th.
“I felt like we played well,” said Dorrego. “We were touching the ball a lot. We were moving it around. We were kind of nervous in the beginning, but it was fine. We settled down. Some new guys got their first start today, so we just settled down, touched the ball around and got some goals.
“No, I didn’t,” replied Dorrego when asked if he thought his first-half shot was going in. “I turned, and Junior took two defenders away from me, so I just felt like I had space and hit it. Luckily, it went in.”
“I thought that we played pretty well as a team,” added Burgos. “We weren’t selfish. We played as one, and I think that all of the hard work from training paid off today. The boys came out and just wanted to win. It didn’t matter who the opponent was. We are just looking forward now to our opener next week.”
About his free-kick goal, Burgos remarked, “Usually on those free kicks, the goalies wait for a cross and they usually cheat a lot. I saw that the goalie was cheating a little bit and I shot it to the near post to see what might happen, and it just went in. Right when I shot it, I knew it was going to go in.”
The Spartans out-shot UC Santa Cruz, 27-11, with Burgos providing a game-high seven attempts. Johnson had a team-high four shots for the Slugs. All 21 eligible players saw action for San Jose State and played a minimum of 28 minutes, with senior tri-captain Ed Brand the lone Spartan to remain in the game for the full 90 minutes in central defense.
San Jose State opens the 2008 season against Notre Dame de Namur University next Friday, August 29. Kick-off is set for 3:00 p.m. at the team’s alternate playing site on South Campus, Spartan Field. Admission is free.
UC Santa Cruz - 0 0 - 0
San Jose State - 4 1 - 5
SJSU - Efrain Burgos, Jr. (Ricky Dorrego), 35:09
SJSU - Efrain Burgos, Jr. (unassisted), 38:38
SJSU - Ricky Dorrego (unassisted), 39:53
SJSU - Colby Moore (Efrain Burgos, Jr., Ricky Dorrego), 41:02
SJSU - Robert Jackson (Ricky Dorrego), 59:05
UCSC - 11
SJSU - 27
UCSC - 3 (Brandon Brooks-1, Matt Mahowald-2)
SJSU - 3 (Richard Mann-1, Lewis Sweeney-1, Tyler Newman-1)
UCSC - 5
SJSU - 7
UCSC - 9
SJSU - 13