San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University men's soccer program concluded its training camp ahead of the 2009 fall season with one final round of two-a-days on Sunday, August 23.
The team worked on set pieces to begin Sunday's last session, before concluding camp with a rare re-appearance of kickball, Spartan-style, which the newcomers won in dramatic fashion late, though third-year midfielders Ricky Dorrego, Robert Jackson and their veteran teammates had a legitimate gripe directed toward the coaching staff/game officials on a key ruling that prolonged the contest.
Toward the end of Saturday's second session, head coach Gary St. Clair and his staff had each player attempt to hit a shot off the crossbar from approximately 30 yards out, with the reward being a game of "flying changes" to close practice, and the alternative the much less appealing, fitness- and running-based "chasing twos." After numerous Spartans came close, only for the ball to narrowly duck underneath the bar, sophomore midfielder Oscar Yniguez, a native of Redwood City, Calif., was given one last attempt, though admittedly it was his third, and cracked one off the woodwork to create a euphoric scene at Spartan Field.
In "flying changes," a mile-a-minute, small-sided, scrimmage-type drill with each side having two field players and one goalkeeper in action at a time, senior midfielder Nick Cukar led the veterans to victory against goalkeeper Jonathan Lester, a transfer from SMU, and his youngster teammates. Cukar tallied the game-winner, his trademark, for the 11-7 final.
Speaking after Saturday's afternoon session, head coach Gary St. Clair had this to say about the first week of training.
"I think we got off to a bit of a slow start. We had a lot of guys come into camp that were carrying injuries from the summer. It took us a couple days to really begin to mold this team, and I think that the last few days have been absolutely huge. It's been a great camp. We're trying to keep the kids fresh and get them ready to play the season. I feel very good about the way this camp has turned out.
"The key for us is we have a lot of experience on this team, at least in the first 10 or 11 players, and I think it's very important to keep the guys fresh," added St. Clair about the week ahead, which takes his Spartans into their first action against another opponent. "We will give them Monday off for the first day of school, and then it's about recovery. We've done triple and double days for seven or eight days, and that really takes a toll. Recovery is going to be important, but we're going to really work over the last few days on just preparation for the match, and trying to keep our guys as sharp as possible for kick-off."
With camp having now concluded, the Spartans will take Monday, August 24, off from training to let the players focus on getting their academic situations in order on the first day of instruction. All San Jose State student-athletes, including the men's soccer program, were back on campus and on hand at Morris Dailey Auditorium for the annual Student-Athlete Orientation function and subsequent barbeque on Tower Lawn on Sunday evening, August 23.
Following Monday's off-day, St. Clair's squad resumes its regular practice routine of 2:00 p.m. sessions on non-game days. San Jose State will be back at Spartan Field on Tuesday, August 25, before getting its first taste of the new FieldTurf inside Spartan Stadium on Wednesday, August 26, and Thursday, August 27.
Practices normally take place at Spartan Field on the corner of 10th and Alma streets on South Campus, and are open to the public. Start times are tentative and always subject to change.
San Jose State will host Cal State Monterey Bay of the NCAA Division II and California Collegiate Athletic Association in a lone exhibition game ahead of the 2009 campaign, this Friday, August 28. Kick-off at Spartan Stadium is set for 5:00 p.m., as the first half of the first of two Spartan Soccer doubleheaders this season. The women's team takes on San Diego State in a match slated for a 7:30 p.m. start.
San Jose State will play its regular-season opener four nights later, on Tuesday, September 1, against 2007 and 2008 NCAA Championship participant UC Davis. The action at Spartan Stadium begins at 7:00 p.m.
Coaches and players from both the San Jose State men's and women's soccer programs will attend their annual Kick-Off Night at the Silicon Valley Capital Club in downtown San Jose on Wednesday evening, September 2. Each squad will then embark on season-long four-game road swings over the following two weekends.
Individual game tickets for Spartan Soccer went on sale last week. Prices are $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for youth aged 12 and under, and $1.00 for youth in soccer jerseys. San Jose State students, as always, can attend all matches free of charge with a valid Tower ID card. Groups of 20 or more receive a discount. Gates open one hour prior to the start of a match.
One final bit of recent news from the men's soccer program, was that St. Clair has officially announced Cukar, a fourth-year senior out of Millbrae, Calif. (Capuchino HS), and Oscar Monjaras, a fifth-year senior defender from Watsonville, Calif. (Watsonville HS), as team co-captains for 2009. Cukar was a second-team all-region selection a year ago and is the leading returning goal-scorer in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Monjaras has the most starts, 40, of any active Spartan heading into Tuesday night's date with the UC Davis Aggies.
San Jose State University Men's Soccer Upcoming Schedule
(Most training sessions are scheduled for Spartan Field at 10th and Alma Street, and open to the public. Schedule is partial, tentative and always subject to change.)
Monday, August 24: First day of instruction (No training)
Tuesday, August 25: Training at 2:00 p.m. at Spartan Field
Wednesday, August 26: Training at 2:00 p.m. inside Spartan Stadium
Thursday, August 27: Training at 2:00 p.m. inside Spartan Stadium
Friday, August 28: Match vs. Cal State Monterey Bay 5:00 p.m. (Exhibition-Spartan Stadium)
Tuesday, September 1: Match vs. UC Davis 7:00 p.m. (Season Opener-Spartan Stadium)
Wednesday, September 2: Soccer Kick-Off Night 5:30-7:30 p.m. (Silicon Valley Capital Club)