The Spartans will travel to San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday to take on the Dons of USF in the first west coast game of the season for San Jose State. Coming off of a stellar outing at the Davidson adidas Classic last weekend, the Spartans enter the match with a 2-0-0 record. They are also ranked tied for 10th in the NSCAA/adidas Far West Region poll, as announced by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
San Jose State defeated Charlotte, 2-1, on the first day of the Classic. On the final day, the Spartans battled Davidson to a 3-2 victory in double-overtime.
SAN JOSE STATE (2-0-0)
Following two wins at Davidson, the Spartans return to the west coast for a three-game roadtrip. San Jose State will open with a match at the University of San Francisco on Sunday, Sept. 9. The next weekend, San Jose State will take a trip south to face UC Riverside on Sept. 14 and UC Irvine on Sept. 16.
San Jose State finished last season with a 7-10-1 overall record and a 4-6 conference mark. From the 2006 team, the Spartans return eight starters and 12 lettermen. Among those returners are All-MPSF defender Ed Brand, team-leading scorer Colby Moore and midfielder Hiroki Akiyama. Also returning to the line-up is Ismael Ibarra, the 2005 Co-Newcomer of the Year.
Stepping into the spotlight early on is sophomore Nick Cukar. The midfielder scored two goals in the Davidson adidas Classic, including the game-winner in the first game against Charlotte. For his efforts, Cukar was named to the All-Tournament team. Also earning All-Tournament honors were Gavin Wenyon, Akiyama and Tournament MVP, Brand.
Newcomers joining the Spartans this season come from various backgrounds and experience. The freshman who has already made an immediate impact on the team in Efrain Burgos, Jr. Burgos scored the game-winning goal in the 101st minute of the Spartans’ double-overtime game against Davidson. The midfielder recorded his first collegiate goal after 10 shots in two games.
In the last match-up between the Spartans and the Dons, USF came away with a 2-0 win. The teams played on Sept. 3, 2006 at Spartan Stadium.
San Francisco (1-1-0)
The Dons finished the 2006 season with a 12-7-1 overall record and a 7-5 conference record. USF advanced into the NCAA Tournament before falling in the first round to Southern Methodist, 2-1.
USF hoped to put its success on the shoulders of 2006 WCC Player of the Year Rob Valentino this year, but the talented defender injured his knee before preseason practice started. Now the Dons must rely on the 12 letterwinners they have returning this season.
With a strong midfield led by Brandon McDonald, Ardalan Attar and Conor Chinn, the Dons are strong contenders for their third WCC Championship.
Head Coach Erik Visser recruited 17 freshmen to join the Dons in 2007 in an attempt to replace the eight letterwinners lost. Newcomer Jeff Penna made his presence known on the field from the start with two goals in the Dons’ first two games of the season, including the game-winner in USF’s 3-2 victory over Alabama A&M in overtime.
The Dons will be challenged with another difficult schedule this season, with pre-conference games against powers UCLA, California, New Mexico, Vermont, Alabama A&M, San Jose State and Stanford. This will prepare them for an always competitive West Coast Conference slate, where they will face additional
ranked teams featuring All-American players.