Spartans Open 2014 Campaign At Hotels At Grand Prairie Classic

Freshman Darren Sinclair and the Spartans open the 2014 season at the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic this weekend.
Aug. 27, 2014

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

San Jose, Calif. -  The San José State men's soccer team opens the 2014 season at the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic in Peoria, Ill. this weekend.  The Spartans open the four-game event on Friday night against the host Bradley University Braves and wrap up the weekend on Sunday at noon with a match against the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks.

San José State (0-0-0)
Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic
at Bradley (0-0-0)
Friday, August 29, 2014, 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Shea Stadium - Peoria, Ill.

vs. Western Illinois (0-0-0)
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 12:00 p.m. (CT)
Shea Stadium - Peoria, Ill.

Live stats for both matches are available for free at
Streaming Video is available through Bradley University for $4.95 for a 24-hour pass or $9.95 for the month.

Fans can follow the action of all San José State home and most road contests by accessing the "Live Stats" feature on the men's soccer schedule page at  

Spartan Digital is your ALL-ACCESS passport to Spartan Athletics.  For live and recorded video and audio of San José State men's soccer home games, go to the SPARTAN DIGITAL link on the home page at

Keep up with all 19 San José State teams through social media sites Twitter and Facebook.  For Twitter go to @sjsuathletics and on Facebook become friends with Sammy Spartan.

Tickets for all San José State men's soccer home games are free for all SJSU students, faculty and staff with a valid Tower Card.  Adult tickets are $5.00, youth (12 years old and under) are $3.00 and any child wearing a jersey gets in for $1.00 on select match days.

Groups of 20 or more can purchase discounted tickets at $3.00 per person.  The Ticket Office opens one hour prior to kickoff at Spartan Soccer Field or can be purchased by calling the San José State Ticket Office at 408-924-SJTX (7589).

Striker Rory Knibbs and central defender Andrew Kelly have received Preseason All-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) honors by a vote of the league's 10 head coaches.

Knibbs, a sophomore out of London, England, earned second-team All-WAC honors last year as well as selection to the conference's all-tournament team. He led the side in goals, points, shots, shots on goals and game winners. Among WAC players he was second in game winners, third in goal and points and 10th in shots.

Kelly, senior from Darlington, England, had 16 starts in 17 appearances. In his 1,507 minutes of action, he produced six shots and put three on frame. This is the second year in a row that Kelly has been honored with preseason selection.

For the second straight year, San José State has been selected, by the WAC coach's poll, to finish in fourth place when the season concludes.  The Spartans' season ended last year in the WAC Tournament championship match, a 2-1 results in favor of Seattle U.

When Simon Tobin agreed to lead San José State's men's soccer team, he became just the third head coach to lead the program since 1954.  Julius Menendez guided the Spartans for 36 years (1954-89) and compiled a 295-205-45 record.  Gary St. Clair was at the helm from 1990-2013, (24 years) and finished with a career record of 217-211-41. 

In 27 years as a men's head coach, Tobin has a 305-189-54 win-loss record.  In 1997 his squad won the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Championship as part of eight NCAA Division I and II championship appearances for his teams. Of the seven conference titles he has guided his teams to, three were in the last four seasons (2010, 2011 and 2012) as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation's (MPSF) Pacific Division winner.

In 27 years as a collegiate head coach, all at CSU Bakersfield, Tobin's teams posted .500 or better win-loss records 22 out of 27 seasons and 17 times won 10 or more matches in a season.

Despite struggling to find the back of the net in 2013, the vast majority of the San José State offense is back and a year older.  The Spartans scored just 18 goals in 21 matches, but 15 of those came from players who return for the 2014 season.  Of those 15 goals, 12 came off the feet of freshman.

Rory Knibbs led the team with 8 strikes, Ben Cowdrill had two and Eric Mendez, and Sam Croucher each tallied one goal.  All four were freshman in 2013.  The only upperclassman to score in 2013 and return in 2014 is senior Frankie Beauchamp who found the back of the net three times last year.

Junior keeper Emmanuel Espinoza had the WAC's third best Goals Against Average in 2013 (1.40) and fourth best save percentage (.758), but his record was just 4-7-4. 

In seven of his 15 starts the Spartans failed to score and five times scored just one goal.  In only three of his 15 starts did the offense tally more than one score.  In those games the team was 2-0-1.

The Braves finished last season with a 14-7-2 overall record and won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship.  The participated to the NCAA Tournament, making it to the second round.  In its two exhibition games Bradley earned a 2-2 tie against defending national champion and preseason No.1 ranked Notre Dame and defeated Illinois-Chicago 3-1.

The only previous meeting between these programs was in the 2012 season.  The Spartans took a 3-2 decision in Spartan Stadium.

The Braves return their second leading scorer from last season.  Sophomore striker Christian Okeke tallied six goals and assisted on four others.  Cody Lofgren, a senior mid, and senior defender Zach Kovacecic each scored three goals.

Brian Billings, who compiled a 13-7-2 record and a 1.22 GAA last year, has graduated.  Shay Niemeyer, the only keeper on the roster with game experience, won the only time he played last year and did not allow a goal in that contest.

Head Coach Jim DeRose is in his 19th season leading the Bradley program.  He brings a 205-136-39 record into the season.  He has guided the program to seven NCAA Tournament appearances including twice in the last three years.

The Fighting Leathernecks finished 2013 with an overall record of 6-13-0 and finished in fourth place (3-3-0) in the Summit League.  WIU has played two exhibition matches and are 1-0-1.  They tied Northern Illinois (0-0) and earned a 1-0 win over Loyola-Chicago.  The team plays UNLV on Friday before facing the Spartans on Sunday.

This will be the first meeting between these two programs.

Western Illinois lost its leading scorer from a year ago, but returns three players who each scored three times last season; Drew Whalen (So., F/MF), Diego Lopez (So. F/MF) and Oscar Ortega (Sr., MF).

Keeper Yves Dietrich started 19 matches last season and had a 6-13-0 record.  His GAA was 1.47 and he recorded three clean sheets.

Head coach Dr. Eric Johnson is in his 18th season leading the Western Illinois program.  He has a 185-214-35 career record and is 142-161-32 at WIU. 
The Last Meeting
San Jose State3
September 21, 2012
Spartan Stadium