Men's Soccer Off To State Capital To Begin MPSF Play

The San Jose State University men’s soccer team plays just once in the week ahead. The Spartans continue their season-long five-game road stretch on Sunday, October 5, taking their 4-1-3 overall record to the state capital to meet the Sacramento State Hornets (5-2-2) in the 2008 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for both teams. Kick-off at Hornet Soccer Field is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

San Jose State is unbeaten in its last four matches at 2-0-2 since a 2-0 defeat in its first road contest of the season at UC Davis, which is now 8-1, on a six-game winning streak of its own, and ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation. The Spartans appear atop the latest league standings tied on overall winning percentage (.688) with UNLV (5-2-1). Last week, they kicked off this road swing with a 1-1 draw at top area rival Santa Clara on Wednesday, September 24. San Jose State then rounded out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 2-0 shutout victory at future MPSF opponent Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday, September 28.

San Jose State is 1-1-1 on the road while Sacramento State is 4-1-1 at home this season.

The Spartans will travel by bus to Sacramento early on the morning of Sunday, October 5, and return to San Jose immediately following the match. The two teams will meet a second time inside Spartan Stadium in their regular-season finale on Senior Night for San Jose State on Saturday, November 15, at 7:00 p.m.

Efrain Burgos, Jr., scored two of the Spartans’ three goals last week, and assisted on the other, earning his first career Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Brine Player of the Week honor. Having found the back of the net in three straight matches, the sophomore attacking central midfielder now leads the team in total points, with seven from three goals and one assist. Senior Hiroki Akiyama (2 G, 2 A) and junior Nick Cukar (3 G) are right behind at six points apiece. Senior Lewis Sweeney earned his third clean sheet in goal for San Jose State in Bakersfield, and has a 0.82 goal-against-average, which is the 49th-best mark in all of the NCAA Division I.


Live stats are available free of charge for all San Jose State men’s and women’s soccer matches played inside Spartan Stadium throughout the 2008 season at Just click on Live Stats under Live from the top menu bar on the front page. Fans can also click on Schedule/Results from each soccer home page and access the live stats from there. Links are also made available at the same locations for live stats for most road contests, including this Sunday afternoon’s conference opener at Sacramento State beginning at 1:00 p.m.

San Jose State went an undefeated 1-0-1 for a second consecutive week, this time away from home to kick off a season-long five-match road swing, at top area rival Santa Clara and future conference foe Cal State Bakersfield last week. The Spartans first drew with the Broncos, 1-1, on Wednesday night, September 24, taking a 64th-minute lead on an incredible goal from Efrain Burgos, Jr., on a chip shot over the goalie from approximately 50 yards out. San Jose State was unable to extend the advantage, and ultimately allowed a late equalizer and settled for the tie.

Burgos, Jr., and senior goalie Lewis Sweeney highlighted a 2-0 shutout victory in Bakersfield four days later, with the latter player making four saves to earn his third clean sheet of the season after stopping a season-high six shots at Santa Clara. Nick Cukar scored the opener off a through-ball assist from Burgos, Jr., with Josh Boemecke also gaining credit for an assist, the first of his college career. Ricky Dorrego provided a nifty over-the-head lob pass inside the penalty area for Burgos, Jr., to half-volley home from close range for the 81st-minute clincher. Cukar finished with a career-high seven shots as the Spartans out-shot the Runners, 15-10.

...match at Sacramento State
“This is exactly what we have been pointing for all season. This team has put so many hours in for this very moment. It’s extremely important. We’ve had, I would describe, a very good, challenging and difficult non-conference schedule. I think it has prepared us extremely well. Whatever the result is on Sunday, these guys will be prepared, and they will not be out-worked. I think we are ready to play.”

...getting off to a good start in conference play
“That’s always a focus for us. You always want people chasing you, rather than trying to make up points along the way. This year, it’s especially important, because our first three games are all away. We play Sacramento State, which is a very difficult opponent. They have had one of their best starts in years. Then we have probably the most difficult trip we go on all season, to New Mexico and UNLV. We not only play two tough teams away, but we have to fly on the day off. It’s very important that we get off to a good start, and Sunday is the day that we are pointing to.”

SAN JOSE STATE (4-1-3, 0-0 MPSF) at SACRAMENTO STATE (5-2-2, 0-0)
(SJSU Leads Series, 14-5-2)
Sacramento State, off to one of its best starts in program history, is coming off a tough weekend during which the Hornets dropped a 1-0 decision to then-21st-ranked UC Davis on Thursday, September 25, before rallying for a 1-1 double-overtime draw, also at home, with Cal Poly on Sunday, September 28. In the latter match, Sacramento State had to play a man short for almost 31 minutes following an 80th-minute red card. In each game, both against teams that San Jose State has already faced this season, with the identical results of a loss (0-2) and a tie (2-2), respectively, the Hornets allowed an early goal within the first 20 minutes of the opening whistle. The equalizer against the Mustangs game from sophomore midfielder Fernando Cabadas via the penalty spot in the 49th minute.

The Hornets, currently ranked two spots ahead of the Spartans in sixth in the NSCAA/adidas Far West rankings, began the season undefeated over their first six matches, with five shutout wins by the combined score of 9-0, with four of those contests at home, and just a neutral-site, 1-1 affair with an undefeated UC Irvine (7-0-2) side now rated third in the region. Since then, Sacramento State has lost two and tied one.

Senior forward Blake Nunes is the only Hornet player with multiple goals this season, with a team-best four. Senior defender Omar Martinez and sophomore Ernesto Carranza have provided three and two assists, respectively. True freshman Bryan Oliver has played 760 of 850 minutes in goal, only allowing five goals for a 0.59 goals-against-average, with 39 saves and four shutouts to his credit. Josh Zimbrich, a senior midfielder who has played in all nine matches for Sacramento State, will be unavailable on Sunday afternoon due to his red-card suspension.

San Jose State and Sacramento State are opening the MPSF’s double round robin slate against each other for the fourth year in a row. The Spartans lead the all-time series, 14-5-2, and hold a 9-3-1 advantage since the turn of the century. San Jose State is a perfect 5-0 against the Hornets since 2000 when the teams have opened the conference season against each other, and has won five of the last six meetings over the past three years, including both in 2007, 2-1 on October 7, and 1-0 in the season finale on November 18. Sacramento State, which joined the MPSF in 1992, swept the two-match series in 2004.

Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger is 122-203-33 in his 20th year at the helm.

In 2007, a free-kick goal by Efrain Burgos, Jr., from the left of the penalty area that took a deflection off a Hornet defender and found the back of the net, proved to be the game-winner in the 72nd minute of a 2-1 home win for San Jose State (10/7) inside Spartan Stadium in the conference opener. Nick Cukar scored the lone goal at 40:40 in the rematch in Sacramento on the season’s final day (11/18). Lewis Sweeney made three saves in the first game and four more in the second to pick up the shutout.

In the 2006 MPSF opener (10/1), Colby Moore’s goal at 18:22 with assists by Gavin Wenyon and Ed Brand gave the Spartans a 1-0 road win. Richard Mann stopped two shots in the shutout. The finale in Spartan Stadium (11/3) saw the Hornets take a 3-0 victory, with all three goals in the second half after San Jose State had gone down to 10 men via a red card. Mann started and played the first 48:15 without allowing a score.

In the 2005 MPSF opener (10/9), a Wenyon-assisted first-half goal gave the Spartans another 1-0 triumph, this time at home, with Mann needing just one save to keep the shutout. He added three saves in a 2-1 victory at Sacramento State in the finale (11/13).

The 2004 Hornet sweep featured a 4-3 overtime result (10/8) in Sacramento and a 3-0 shutout (11/11) in San Jose, when current first-year volunteer assistant coach Dan Benton saved six shots in the Spartan net. San Jose State overturned an early one-goal deficit to rampage past Sacramento State, 6-1, in the lone 2003 meeting (9/26) to open the MPSF season at home.

San Jose State won in overtime in 2002 (11/10), 2-1, in Sacramento. Benton made 11 saves in 120 minutes in a scoreless home draw in 2001 (10/21). The Spartans took both matches comfortably in 2000, 3-0 with three first-half goals in the MPSF opener away from home (9/17), and 4-1 at home (10/19).

San Jose State moved into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Far West Region rankings at No. 8 in its latest release on Tuesday, September 30. The Spartans appear in the regional poll for the first time in over a year, since earning the 10th spot with two other teams on September 4, 2007, after they began the year a perfect 2-0 at the Davidson adidas Classic. League foes Sacramento State (sixth), New Mexico (seventh) and UNLV (receiving votes) also appear in the poll.

San Jose State is 6-2 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation openers since the 2000 season. The Spartans are 5-0 against Sacramento State when facing off to begin the conference slate, with wins in 2000 (3-0), 2003 (6-1), 2005 (1-0), 2006 (1-0) and 2007 (2-1). San Jose State lost at UNLV, 1-0, to start MPSF play in 2001, topped Denver at home in overtime, 1-0, in 2002, and dropped a 3-1 decision at Denver in 2004.

The 2008 MPSF season starts on Friday, October 3, when four-time defending league champion New Mexico kicks off against Denver on the road at 3:00 p.m. PDT. UNLV will be at Air Force later that night. All six conference members will be in action on Sunday afternoon. San Jose State opens at Sacramento State, while New Mexico will be at Air Force and UNLV at Denver.

San Jose State currently appears atop the MPSF standings with UNLV (5-2-1) on overall winning percentage (.688). The Spartans are the only team that has gone undefeated at home (3-0-2).