Woodland, Calif. - San Jose State University was recently picked to finish third in the now-eight-team men's soccer Mountain Pacific Sports Federation race in a 2009 preseason vote of the league's head coaches.
The Spartans garnered a total of 34 points to take the third spot after finishing each of the past two seasons in that position. San Jose State also took up the third slot in the preseason polls ahead of its 2007 and 2008 campaigns.
Denver, a first-time MPSF champion in 2008, and the league's lone representative at the NCAA Championship, is favored to defend its title, earning five first-place votes toward 47 points. New Mexico, which had its run of four straight MPSF crowns snapped by the Pioneers a year ago, is picked to place second with 44 points and the remaining three first-place nods.
Following San Jose State in the poll, in order, were UNLV (32), Sacramento State (24), Seattle (18), Air Force (16) and Cal State Bakersfield (9). Seattle and Cal State Bakersfield are each in their first year as MPSF members in men's soccer. Both squads are reclassifying up from Division II to Division I. Their first season of active Division I membership will come in 2010.
San Jose State finished 9-5-4 overall and 5-4-1 in league play in 2008. The Spartans ended the year on an absolute tear, reeling off four straight victories to conclude with a six-game unbeaten stretch at 5-0-1, after dropping four successive one-goal decisions to open the league slate.
The Spartans boast the MPSF's leading returning goal-scorer in senior co-captain Nick Cukar, who had seven of his nine strikes serve as game-winners in seven of his team's nine triumphs a year ago. He was named a first-team All-MPSF and second-team all-region selection. Senior striker Colby Moore (second team) and junior midfielder Josh Boemecke (honorable mention) are two other all-conference honorees who are back, as are fifth-year seniors Brian McGuire and co-captain Oscar Monjaras, and junior San Jose native Ricky Dorrego.
San Jose State will take its six-game unbeaten run into its 2009 opener against UC Davis, an NCAA Championship participant in each of its first two years at the Division I level in 2007 and 2008, on Tuesday night, September 1. The team will first take on Cal State Monterey Bay in an exhibition contest this Friday, August 28, beginning at 5:00 p.m. inside Spartan Stadium.
2009 Coaches' Poll
Team (First-place votes) Points 2008 Overall/MPSF Record (MPSF Finish)
1. Denver (5) 47 10-7-2/8-1-1 (1st/NCAA Championship)
2. New Mexico (3) 44 11-6-2/7-3 (2nd)
3. San Jose State 34 9-5-4/5-4-1 (3rd)
4. UNLV 32 8-9-1/3-7 (T4th)
5. Sacramento State 24 8-9-2/3-7 (T4th)
6. Seattle 18 11-3-1/First Year in MPSF
7. Air Force 16 5-13/3-7 (T4th)
8. Cal State Bakersfield 9 4-13/First Year in MPSF