Men's Soccer Hosts UNLV, New Mexico

The San Jose State University men’s soccer team begins one final homestand for the 2008 regular season this weekend. The Spartans are unbeaten over their last three matches, at 2-0-1, and are now back above the .500 mark at 6-5-4 overall, and 2-4-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. They first host the UNLV Rebels (8-5-1, 3-3) on Friday afternoon, November 7, with a slightly earlier start time than previously scheduled. Kick-off at Spartan Field on South Campus is now set for 2:30 p.m., and not 3:00 p.m., due to daylight considerations. Admission is free. Fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

San Jose State will then play host to four-time defending MPSF champion New Mexico (8-5-2, 4-2) on Sunday afternoon, November 9, inside Spartan Stadium at 1:00 p.m.

Should the Spartans win Friday’s match against UNLV, they would vault over the Rebels and into sole possession of third-place in the conference. San Jose State was eliminated from contention for even a share of the 2008 MPSF crown last weekend.

San Jose State is 4-1-2 at home in 2008. UNLV, ranked 10th in the latest NSCAA/adidas Far West region poll, is 2-4-1 outside of Las Vegas, while New Mexico, rated ninth in the region, is 2-3-2 away from home. The Spartans dropped one-goal decisions to both squads earlier this year.

After these next two matches, San Jose State closes out the 2008 regular season on Saturday night, November 15, welcoming Sacramento State into Spartan Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. kick-off. Six seniors will be recognized prior to the start of that match on Senior Night. That group is made up of fifth-year Spartans Richard Mann and Gavin Wenyon, alongside Hiroki Akiyama, Ed Brand, Sam Shore and Lewis Sweeney.

GAME #16
vs. UNLV (8-5-1, 3-3 MPSF)

GAME #17

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. No live stats are available for Friday’s match against UNLV at Spartan Field.

Nick Cukar’s 37th-minute strike and a shutout in goal by Richard Mann led San Jose State to a 1-0 victory over Air Force in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at Cadet Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon, November 2.

The Spartans thus swept the two-game season series from the Falcons, having already posted a 1-0 home triumph against the Academy, which also featured a lone goal by Cukar and a clean sheet by Mann, inside Spartan Stadium two Sundays prior.

As he had done in the previous encounter as well, Hiroki Akiyama provided the assist on the Cukar score. The goal, the junior midfielder’s fifth on the year, came at the 36:44 mark.

Mann, a senior tri-captain and San Jose native out of Leland High School, needed to make six stops to earn his second shutout this season, both against the Falcons, and 13th of his career.

SAN JOSE STATE (6-5-4, 2-4-1 MPSF) vs. UNLV (8-5-1, 3-3 MPSF)
(UNLV Leads Series, 17-11-3)
UNLV lost 3-2 at New Mexico last Friday, October 31. Both Rebel goals came from senior forward Lamar Neagle, who now leads the MPSF with nine strikes over his 13 matches played, with three of them game-winners. Neagle also paces the league in total points with 18.

Sophomore Daniel Cruz, the 2007 MPSF Newcomer of the Year and a first-team all-conference pick in his first season of college soccer, has 13 points from five goals, three of them game-winners, and three assists. Both he and Neagle have picked up MPSF Player of the Week distinction two times each in 2008, and have combined for 72 shots taken. Ben Haugland, a senior forward, has provided a team-best four assists. Senior Hawk Mummey has played every minute in goal for UNLV, posting a 1.11 goals-against-average. He has a pair of shutouts and 59 saves.

UNLV leads the all-time series between these teams, 17-11-3. The Rebels took this season’s earlier meeting, 2-1, in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sunday, October 12, rallying from a 1-0 halftime deficit on goals from Haugland (74) and Neagle (89). The Spartans had previously won four in a row, and were unbeaten over six straight matches 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. Last year, San Jose State won handily each time, 3-0 on Spartan Field (10/14), and 3-1 in Nevada (11/9).

Now in his third season at the helm, 2007 MPSF Co-Coach of the Year Mario Sanchez has compiled an overall record of 16-30-5.

SAN JOSE STATE (6-5-4, 2-4-1 MPSF) vs. NEW MEXICO (8-5-2, 4-2 MPSF)
(UNM Leads Series, 13-6)
New Mexico will be at Sacramento State on Friday afternoon, before heading inside Spartan Stadium on Sunday. The Lobos won their lone game a week ago, edging UNLV at home, 3-2, on Friday, October 31. They have the longest current win streak in the MPSF, at two games.

Junior Justin Davis paces the Lobos with 15 total points from five goals, three of them game-winners, and five assists. He has a team-leading 47 shots. Senior forward Chris Wright, the 2007 MPSF Player of the Year and a preseason All-American, has 10 points from four goals and two assists. He has four career goals against San Jose State. Fellow senior Jack Smithson also has 10 points, from three goals and four assists. Sophomore Eric Staver has played a majority of the minutes in the Lobo net, posting a 1.16 goals-against-average. He has three shutouts and 52 saves.

New Mexico leads the all-time series, 13-6, and has won six 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. 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 took a 1-0 decision in overtime in this year’s previous meeting, at home back on Friday, October 10, with Davis notching the goal at 91:58. They won 4-1 on Spartan Field (10/12) and 5-1 at home (11/11) in 2007.

It was not readily known when the last time the Spartans topped New Mexico in San Jose, but the last time they beat the Lobos in the state of California, was 3-2 in Sacramento on November 16, 2003. That was the championship game of the 2003 MPSF Tournament, after which San Jose State earned its most recent NCAA Championship berth.

UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein is 95-30-15 in his seventh year in charge of the Lobos. Fishbein is 11-2 against San Jose State, including the six straight victories in which his team has out-scored the Spartans, 18-4.

Richard Mann was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Brine Co-Player of the Week for the week of October 27-November 2. It was the first weekly conference honor of his college career. The fifth-year senior goalkeeper earned the award based on a career-high 11 saves in a 3-3 draw at first-place Denver on Friday, October 31, and a 1-0 shutout victory at Air Force two days later. The 11 saves are the single-game high by any net-minder in the MPSF in 2008, and the largest single-game save total by a Spartan since current first-year volunteer assistant coach Dan Benton posted 14 stops in a 2004 match.

San Jose State defeated Air Force under oddly similar circumstances in both meetings this season. Each match, inside Spartan Stadium on Sunday, October 19, and at Air Force on Sunday, November 2, ended 1-0 in favor of the Spartans. Hiroki Akiyama assisted Nick Cukar on the lone goal in both matches, with Richard Mann earning shutouts in each.