THIS WEEKEND - SPARTANS HEAD TO CAPITAL IN SEARCH OF TOURNEY BYE
The San Jose State University men's soccer team will conclude the 2009 regular season at Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion Sacramento State this Saturday, November 7. The Spartans will take a day trip to the state capital, for a 2:30 p.m. contest at Hornet Soccer Field. They need a better result than New Mexico at home later that same evening against UNLV, in order to secure the second and final first-round bye at next week's MPSF Tournament in Denver, Colo. San Jose State will be looking to bounce back from consecutive home defeats in conference play last weekend that knocked it out of contention for the regular-season MPSF crown, which went to this week's opponent, Sacramento State (9-5-2, 5-0-1 MPSF). The Spartans are at 9-8-1 overall and in a second-place tie with New Mexico (10-6) at 4-2 in the MPSF. They have already met Sacramento State once this season, posting a rare non-conference victory over their MPSF rivals, 2-1, in come-from-behind fashion on Thursday, October 8, at Spartan Stadium.
SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY (9-8-1, 4-2 MPSF)
at SACRAMENTO STATE (9-5-2, 5-0-1 MPSF)
HORNET SOCCER FIELD, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2:30 P.M.
Live stats for all San Jose State home soccer matches are available courtesy of JumpTV and NeuLion at SJSUSpartans.com. Live stats are available for a majority of the team's road contests as well, including this Saturday's regular-season finale at Sacramento State. Just click on Live Stats under Live from the top menu bar on the front page, or on Schedule/Results from the men's soccer home page, and access the live stats from there. There is no audio or video coverage of Saturday's contest.
SAN JOSE STATE (9-8-1, 4-2 MPSF) at SACRAMENTO STATE (9-5-2, 5-0-1 MPSF)
Sacramento State locked up the 2009 MPSF regular-season crown when New Mexico won 1-0 at San Jose State last Sunday, November 1. The Hornets dropped their first points of the league campaign that same afternoon at UNLV, as the host Rebels got an equalizer late in regulation and held them to a 1-1 draw.
Max Alvarez, a true freshman out of Napa, Calif., leads the MPSF with 18 points from a league-best eight goals and two assists. He is second with 54 shots taken in his first season of college soccer. One-time MPSF Co-Player of the Week Ernesto Carranza has 16 points from six goals and four assists, while David Norton, himself a freshman forward, has nine points from four goals and one assist. Junior midfielder Fernando Cabadas serves as the Hornets' playmaker, and has a team-best six assists, tied for the league lead. The Sacramento State goal has been occupied throughout this successful conference season by sophomore Bryan Oliver (0.69 GAA, 21 saves, three shutouts).
These area and league rivals have faced off at least once each season during this decade. San Jose State holds a 11-4-1 series edge during that time, including 5-2 in Sacramento. The Spartans defeated the Hornets, 2-1, in a non-conference tilt in San Jose on October 8, getting a penalty kick from Oscar Yniguez and a headed winner from Nick Cukar to overturn a second-half deficit created by Carranza. They have won two straight meetings in all, including 4-1 in the 2008 season finale at Spartan Stadium last November 15. The Hornets' last triumph in the series was 1-0 at home last October 5 in the conference opener.
Michael Linenberger is in his 21st season as the Sacramento State head coach.
SPARTANS ENDURE TOUGH WEEKEND AT HOME
San Jose State dropped both of its home games inside Spartan Stadium last weekend, by the identical score of 1-0. The Spartans allowed a 75th-minute goal to UNLV on Friday night, October 30, and a goal at 96:25 of the first overtime period against New Mexico on Senior Day on Sunday, November 1. Jonathan Lester came up with seven saves over the two contests.
HOMECOMING FOR SPARTAN TRIO
San Jose State has three natives of Sacramento, Calif., on the 2009 roster in fifth-year senior midfielder Brian McGuire (Bella Vista HS), redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Newman (Natomas HS) and true freshman defender Christian Romero (Woodcreek HS). McGuire will be making a fourth and final trip back home as a college soccer player, while Newman and Romero will be making their first.
Just prior to kick-off against New Mexico on Sunday, November 1, four San Jose State seniors who appeared in their final match inside Spartan Stadium, were recognized. The veteran quartet, made up of Nick Cukar, Brian McGuire, Oscar Monjaras and Colby Moore, has led the San Jose State to the brink of a third straight winning campaign, and combined for 252 matches played, 196 of them starts.
Sacramento State is the MPSF regular-season champion for the first time since 2001. The Hornets have thus clinched the top seed and one of two first-round byes at next week's MPSF Tournament in Denver, Colo. The conference tournament is back in the fold for the first time since the Spartans won it as the top seed in Sacramento, Calif., in 2003. The league's automatic NCAA Championship berth will now go to the tournament winner, and not the regular-season champion. First-year members Cal State Bakersfield and Seattle are not eligible for this year's MPSF Tournament, so the six-team field is set at Sacramento State, San Jose State, New Mexico, Air Force, UNLV, and host and defending champion Denver. The Spartans are assured of no worse than the No. 3 seed. In order to grab the No. 2 seed and the other first-day bye for Thursday, November 12, they would need to post a better result this Saturday, November 7, than the New Mexico Lobos, who host UNLV on Senior Night at 6:00 p.m. PST.
LENGTHY STREAKS SNAPPED
San Jose State had a season-long and league-best seven-match win streak snapped following its 1-0 home loss to UNLV on Friday night, October 30. The Spartans were unbeaten over their previous eight in all, going 7-0-1 during the stretch, with six of the eight results coming in shutout fashion. San Jose State out-scored its opponents, 12-3, over the eight games, for a 0.36 goals-against-average. The Spartans ended the 2008 season on a six-game unbeaten run, with five victories and a road draw. The recent seven-match win streak was the program's longest since a 13-game run in the 2000 season. The eight-game unbeaten stretch was the Spartans' longest since a 21-gamer, also from that banner 2000 campaign.
The Spartans also had a 10-match home unbeaten streak since late in the 2008 season ended against UNLV. They had gone 9-0-1 and out-scored opponents, 21-4, during that stretch. They were 5-0-1 at Spartan Stadium in 2009 prior to that loss, after concluding the 2008 campaign with home wins over MPSF foes Air Force, UNLV, New Mexico and Sacramento State. The Spartans, who finished an impressive 7-1-2 in San Jose in 2008, picked up right where they left off in 2009, with a 4-1 home triumph over then-No. 24 UC Davis on Opening Night on September 1. A 5-0 demolition of Notre Dame de Namur (9/16), a scoreless draw with Santa Clara (9/27), a 2-1 win over Sacramento State (10/8), and back-to-back 1-0 defeats of Denver (10/16) and Air Force (10/18) had followed. San Jose State went over a full calender year between home losses, after a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker against eventual league champion Denver on October 17, 2008.