Men's soccer opens conference play hosting Denver then traveling to Air Force

The Spartans hope to challenge
for the top spot in the MPSF.
SJSU vs. Denver–Friday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m. at Spartan Stadium
SJSU at Air Force–Sunday, Oct. 20, 1:00 p.m. in Colorado Springs, Colo.

SJSU at San Diego State–Friday, Oct. 25, 3:00 p.m. in San Diego, Calif.
SJSU vs. UNLV–Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Spartan Stadium

The Spartans (6-7-0) won their last two games heading into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener. San Jose State secured a 2-1 win at Saint Mary’s on Friday and returned home and topped Notre Dame de Namur, 1-0, in overtime. The team will host Denver in the MPSF opener on Friday night at Spartan Stadium. The team then heads to Colorado Springs, Colo., to face Air Force in a Sunday afternoon match. The Spartans’ lackluster performance so far this season can be avenged with a strong showing in the MPSF. With injuries healing and young players gaining valuable experience, the Spartans hope to win the MPSF crown come November.

The Pioneers (6-7-0) have the same record as the Spartans, but have a slight advantage offensively. Denver lost its only match of the week, 1-0, to Colorado School of Mines in Denver, Colo. The game marked the first time since 1999 that Denver has lost more than six contests in a season. Denver has scored 24 goals so far this season—one less than the opposition. Ten different players have notched a goal this season and six have multiple goals. Nic Hartman and Robert Rice are leading the offense. Hartman with four goals and three assists and Rice has five goals and two assists.

Air Force split its matches by dropping a 4-2 road contest to 20th-ranked Saint Louis before getting a 2-1 win over Drury at home this past week. Freshman forward Skyler Clarkston and senior forward Paul Gagliardi each recorded goals to lead the Falcons over the Panthers. Air Force will host Sacramento State before the Spartans this weekend. The Falcons lead the MPSF in scoring with 27 goals and 22 assists so far this season. Sophomore Marcus Sagastume leads the team and is third in the conference in scoring. Sagastume has four goals and five assists.

San Jose State and Denver are tied, 3-3, in the all-time series. The Pioneers won the first two games played in 1964 and 1970 and it was 30 years before the teams would play again. The competition resumed with Denver entering the MPSF and the Spartans won both matched played in 2000. Last season the series split. Denver won in the final game of the season at Spartan Stadium. San Jose State was able to seek revenge less than a week later, shutting out the Pioneers, 2-0, in the first round of the MPSF championship.

San Jose State leads the series, 11-3-3, that began in 1963. The Spartans met six times in the 1960s, then met in 1981 and did not play again until 1992. Since 1992, the Spartans are 5-3-2 against the Falcons. Last season the teams battled to a 1-1 tie through two overtime periods when Air Force was ranked in the top-25. In 2000, the Spartans won both games played.

It took nearly an entire 10-minute overtime period break a scoreless tie and give the San Jose State University men’s soccer team (6-7-0) a 1-0 win over the visiting Notre Dame de Namur (8-6-1) Monday night. Freshman striker Johnny Gonzalez whipped the ball in the net with a bicycle kick with 22 seconds left and the Spartans (6-7-0) one man down in the first overtime period to nail the win. Francisco Martinez was credited with the assist.

Both teams played evenly and physically with 36 combined fouls and eight cautions and one Spartan ejection. The teams were even with 13 shots and five on goal after two regulation periods. San Jose State’s Randy Poggio was ejected after drawing a red card in the 81st minute and played a player short for nearly 20 minutes.

The score remained knotted at 0-0 despite each team being awarded a penalty kick and missing. San Jose State’s Tony Chang failed to convert on a penalty kick in the 61st minute. The Argonauts’ Nicholas Tiggs hit the cross bar with his penalty kick in the 66th minute.

San Jose State goalkeeper Michael Lawrence was credited with four saves and earned his second win and a shutout. Notre Dame de Namur’s Mike Whittaker made five saves and allowed the lone goal in the loss.

Eleven different players have a goal this season, but only three have two or more. Randy Poggio has three on the season and has not scored in the past nine games. Frank Sanfilippo and Andiry Budnyy are second with two apiece. Fausto Villegas, Tony Chang and Johnny Gonzalez each have notched their first goals of the season in the past week.

The 2002 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship will be hosted by New Mexico from Nov. 14-17. The champion will be determined by a six-team postseason tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. The tournament field will be seeded off the MPSF conference finish after single round-robin play.

The 2002 season marks the 75th anniversary of men’s soccer at San Jose State University. The school first fielded a squad in 1927 and has been going strong since then. Over the years the Spartans have enjoyed success in many areas. The school has produced 24 All-Americans, a Hermann Award winner (Mani Hernandez, 1968), 35 winning seasons, a 20-win season in 2000, 13 NCAA tournament appearances including seven consecutive from 1966-71 and many other incredible memories. The 2002 Spartans will look to add another winning season, the fifth in a row, as the team hopes to challenge for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title and another appearance in the NCAA tournament.