THIS WEEK - SPARTANS CLOSE ROAD STRETCH AT NEW MEXICO, UNLV
The San Jose State University men’s soccer team concludes a season-long five-game road stretch this week with a pair of tough Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contests. With their record now at 4-2-3 overall and 0-1 in MPSF play, the Spartans travel to Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday afternoon, October 9, to take on the four-time defending conference champion Lobos of the University of New Mexico (4-4-2, 1-1) under the lights in primetime on Friday, October 10. Kick-off at the UNM Soccer Complex is set for 7:00 p.m. MDT, 6:00 p.m. PDT. On Sunday, October 12, San Jose State will take on UNLV (5-4-1, 0-2) at Peter Johann Memorial Field in a match scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start.
San Jose State was unbeaten in four matches at 2-0-2 in between a 2-0 defeat in its first road contest of the season at No. 13 UC Davis on September 14, and a narrow 1-0 loss at Sacramento State in the conference opener for both sides last Sunday, October 5. The Spartans are still rated 10th in the latest Far West region rankings, with New Mexico two spots above in eighth. The Lobos will head into the San Jose State match without a national ranking for the first time since 2003. Friday night’s contest will mark the first of two meetings this season between the two teams that have accounted for the last eight MPSF crowns. San Jose State is 1-2-1 on the road while New Mexico is 2-2-0 at home this season.
The Spartans will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, October 11, and return to San Jose following their match with the Rebels, on Sunday evening.
San Jose State returns to home action against Denver on Friday night, October 17, with kick-off at Spartan Stadium set for 7:00 p.m. The team will later host UNLV on Friday, November 7, on Spartan Field, and New Mexico on Sunday afternoon, November 9, inside Spartan Stadium.
SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY (4-2-3, 0-1 MPSF)
at UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO (4-4-2, 1-1 MPSF)
UNM SOCCER COMPLEX, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 6:00 P.M. PDT
SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY (4-2-3, 0-1 MPSF)
at UNLV (5-4-1, 0-2 MPSF)
PETER JOHANN FIELD, LAS VEGAS, NEV.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1:00 P.M.
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 SJSUSpartans.com. 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 both of this week’s conference matches at New Mexico on Friday night, October 10, and at UNLV on Sunday afternoon, October 12, courtesy of CSTV GameTracker.
Live video is available for the New Mexico-San Jose State match this Friday night, October 10, at GoLobos.com. The link can also be accessed via SJSUSpartans.com. Just click on Schedule/Results from the men’s soccer home page and navigate to the broadcast from there.
SPARTANS EDGED AT SACRAMENTO STATE IN MPSF OPENER
San Jose State played well at the start and in stretches, but succumbed to a 77th-minute header goal by Sacramento State, 1-0, in the 2008 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for both teams at Hornet Soccer Field on Sunday afternoon, October 5.
The lone score of the day came at the 76:07 mark, when Blake Nunes got free down the right flank and sent a cross into the Spartan penalty area. Zach Tuss was wide open and waiting for it at the back post, and buried his header into the back of the net for his first collegiate goal.
The Spartans had a couple of half-chances the rest of the way, but the home side was able to hang on for just its second victory over San Jose State in the last seven meetings.
Lewis Sweeney awarded the Spartans one last opportunity to equalize with his major college high ninth save at 87:09, his best of the match on a day in which the senior goalkeeper was celebrating his 21st birthday in front of numerous family members and friends in attendance. Another dangerous cross from the right reached Scott Crandall at the near post, but Sweeney denied the point-blank attempt with a dive low to his left to keep SJSU alive.
Shots were even at 19-19 for the contest, with San Jose State having the better of it over the first 45 minutes (8-6). The Spartans also earned seven corner kicks, to just one by the Hornets. Efrain Burgos, Jr. turned in a game-high five shots, with a game-high three of Hiroki Akiyama’s four shots going on goal. Sam Shore added a career-high three shots.
HEAD COACH GARY ST. CLAIR ON...
...match at Sacramento State
“I think that all of us are disappointed in the result. I think that we could have won this game, and I think there was a feeling that we let one go a bit. At the same time, it was not our best performance. We really struggled defensively at times, one-on-one. I would say I was disappointed with that. We weren’t very sharp at all. Sacramento State took over the midfield in the second half of the game, and that really hurt us. (The midfield) has been our strength all year round. We just simply have to be better one-on-one defensively, because that sets up everything else that we do. If we don’t win the ball, we can’t play. I think we are all very disappointed, but this team has been extremely resilient, and we’ll come back and be ready to go.”
...bouncing back to round out this road stretch at New Mexico and UNLV
“The way we do it is that we have to remember what got us here. We have to work hard in training. We have to be able to defend better one-on-one. We have to be sharper in our shape. That’s how you do it. All three teams (San Jose State, New Mexico and UNLV) lost opening weekend. This is conference. This is what you expect.”
SAN JOSE STATE (4-2-3, 0-1 MPSF) at NEW MEXICO (4-4-2, 1-1 MPSF)
(UNM Leads Series, 12-6)
New Mexico is coming off a four-game road swing. The Lobos posted a split last weekend in Colorado, where they dropped a 1-0 decision at Denver with three players unavailable due to red-card suspensions, before routing Air Force, 4-0, with four different Lobos notching goals. The win over Air Force snapped a four-game winless streak for New Mexico, its longest since 2003. SJSU and UNM have had one common opponent so far in 2008. The Spartans tied Cal Poly at home, 2-2 (9/18), just four days after the Mustangs had won at New Mexico, 2-1. The Lobos did previously blank then-second-ranked Akron at home, 1-0 (9/12).
Senior forward Chris Wright, the 2007 MPSF Player of the Year and a preseason All-American, paces the Lobos with seven points from three goals and an assist. He has four career goals against San Jose State, with a pair in each of the last two games in Albuquerque. Fellow senior Jack Smithson has identical offensive numbers, while junior Justin Davis is tied for the conference lead with three assists. Sophomore Eric Staver has played every minute in the Lobo goal, posting a 1.22 goals-against-average and two shutouts while stopping 40 shots.
New Mexico leads the all-time series, 12-6, and has won five straight against San Jose State, dating back to one of Spartan head coach Gary St. Clair’s best victories of his coaching career, a 3-2 overtime classic over the then-second-ranked Lobos at the UNM Soccer Complex on October 16, 2005. After the home side took a 49th-minute lead in that game, Dan Oka’s free-kick goal from 25 yards out tied it at 54:03. A penalty kick by current New York Red Bulls player Andrew Boyens at 54:54 gave UNM the lead back, only for San Jose State to equalize again on a Dylan Pender header off an Ismael Ibarra assist at 58:07, as the teams combined for four scores in less than 10 minutes. The winner, again assisted by Ibarra, came off the foot of Nelson Diaz at 97:41 in front of a packed house of 3,023 spectators. Current senior Richard Mann played the entire 97:41 and made four saves in the Spartan net. His counterpart, Mike Graczyk, now with the San Jose Earthquakes, made four stops of his own. New Mexico went on to finish as the national runner-up that season, with its only other loss to Maryland in the championship game.
The Lobos head into Friday night’s latest meeting without a national ranking. The last time the Spartans faced an un-ranked New Mexico side was in the championship game of the MPSF Tournament in Sacramento, Calif., at the end of the 2003 season (11/16), when San Jose State produced a 3-2 victory on its way to its most recent NCAA Championship appearance.
UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein is 91-29-15 in his seventh year in charge of the Lobos. Fishbein is 10-2 against San Jose State, including the five straight victories in which his team has out-scored the Spartans, 17-4. New Mexico won 4-1 on Spartan Field (10/12) and 5-1 at home (11/11) a year ago. The Lobos are 24-2-1 in MPSF action at the UNM Soccer Complex under Fishbein, with one of those losses the 2005 defeat to San Jose State.
SAN JOSE STATE (4-2-3, 0-1 MPSF) at UNLV (5-4-1, 0-2 MPSF)
(UNLV Leads Series, 16-11-3)
UNLV has not played at home since a 2-1 victory in double overtime over Oral Roberts on September 14, contesting its last four matches away from Las Vegas, including back-to-back losses by the identical score of 1-0 to open conference play at Air Force (10/3) and Denver (10/5). The Rebels will first host Sacramento State on Friday night, before welcoming San Jose State. They are 3-1 at Peter Johann Memorial Field this season.
The only common opponent between these teams thus far has been the University of San Francisco. San Jose State edged the Dons, 1-0, in double overtime at home (9/10), while the Rebels drew at USF, 1-1 (9/19).
UNLV is led by its forward tandem of senior Lamar Neagle and sophomore Daniel Cruz, the latter the 2007 MPSF Newcomer of the Year and a first-team all-conference pick in his first season of college soccer. Both have picked up MPSF Player of the Week distinction already in 2008, and have combined for 50 shots taken. Neagle leads the Rebels with 10 points from five goals, while Cruz has eight from four. Ben Haugland, himself a senior forward, has provided a team-best three assists. Senior Hawk Mummey has played every minute in goal for UNLV, posting a 0.96 goals-against-average and a pair of shutouts while making 41 saves.
Contrary to the series with New Mexico, San Jose State has had UNLV’s number in recent meetings, though the Rebels still hold a 16-11-3 advantage in the all-time series. The Spartans have won four in a row, and are unbeaten in their last six against UNLV, at 5-0-1, dating back to the 2004 campaign, when the Rebels swept the two-game season series with a pair of 1-0 shutouts, scoring at 89:59 on a one-on-one against then-goalkeeper and current first-year Spartan volunteer assistant coach Dan Benton in the Las Vegas meeting (10/31). San Jose State has taken three straight at Peter Johann Field since that loss.
Last year, San Jose State won handily each time, 3-0 on Spartan Field (10/14) on goals by Ismael Ibarra, Julio Gonzalez and Colby Moore, with Richard Mann making two stops in earning the clean sheet, and 3-1 in Nevada (11/9). Nick Cukar and Efrain Burgos, Jr. (2), provided the goals at UNLV, with the first from Burgos, Jr., coming on a free kick with just four ticks left in the first half, and the second at 89:50 to clinch it with 10 seconds remaining, after Neagle had brought the home side within one from the penalty spot at 86:56. Lewis Sweeney had six saves.
Now in his third season at the helm, 2007 MPSF Co-Coach of the Year Mario Sanchez has compiled an overall record of 13-29-5.
SPARTANS REMAIN IN FAR WEST REGION POLL
San Jose State moved two notches down but remained in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Far West Region poll, released on Tuesday, October 7, at No. 10. In the eighth spot the week before on September 30, the Spartans were appearing 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 (fifth) and New Mexico (eighth) also appear in the current poll.