San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University women’s soccer program has released its 2008 fall schedule, as announced by new head coach Jeff Leightman. The schedule features 10 home contests among a total of 20 games, including five against NCAA Championship participants from 2007, four of them at home inside Spartan Stadium, and two first-time opponents, both in San Jose.
“I like our schedule,” remarked Leightman. “I think it’s a challenge, a mixture, which is nice, and it is going to get us prepared for our Western Athletic Conference schedule. We want to contend for a WAC championship, and that is going to be difficult, but we like the look of our schedule. It’s going to make us better, come together as a team right away and give us the preparation that we need entering into our first WAC game against Fresno State. It’s a mixture of some different teams and different styles of play. We are going to see some different styles of play in our conference, so that’s a positive.”
After a single exhibition game against Humboldt State at Spartan Field on Sunday, August 17, the Spartans will officially open the Leightman era with back-to-back home contests against nationally-ranked area opponents that each earned berths into the NCAA Championship a season ago. San Jose State will first play host to Santa Clara University in the annual Rivalry Series meeting between the South Bay foes, underneath the lights at Spartan Stadium on Friday night, August 22, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
San Jose State will then take on the University of California on Sunday afternoon, August 24, with kick-off set for 1:00 p.m. inside Spartan Stadium. It will mark the first game between the teams since a Cal victory at the Saint Mary’s Classic in Moraga, Calif., on September 12, 2004, the first San Jose appearance for the Bears since the 2000 season, and Cal’s 2008 regular-season opener.
“Obviously, opening up against Santa Clara and California, two of the top teams in the country, we are going to have to prepare ourselves very, very quickly during the preseason,” said Leightman. “We will find out exactly where we are and what we need to improve on. I think that’s a unique challenge, but it’s a positive one. It’s always a positive to play the best teams in the country, because I don’t think you can meet the demands of tomorrow, without challenging yourself today.”
Leightman and his Spartans will make their first road foray of the season on Friday, August 29, traveling to Davis, Calif., to battle the Aggies of UC Davis at 2:30 p.m. A fifth and final August contest will take place on Sunday, August 31, with Seattle University paying Spartan Stadium a visit for its first meeting with San Jose State beginning at 1:00 p.m. The Redhawks, who went 17-3-1 in earning an NCAA Division II Championship berth a season ago, are beginning the process of reclassifying back up to the Division I level.
San Jose State will continue to alternate between home and away matches throughout most of September, heading south to play UC Riverside on Sunday, September 7, at 1:00 p.m., before heading back to take on a fourth NCAA Championship qualifier from 2007 in Sacramento State exactly one week later on Sunday, September 14, at 1:00 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans and Dons of the University of San Francisco will play each other at Negoesco Stadium in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday evening, September 18, at 5:00 p.m. San Jose State then welcomes Miami University of Ohio to Spartan Stadium on Sunday, September 21, at 12:00 p.m., marking the second meeting all-time between the sides and first since a 3-2 RedHawk triumph at Spartan Field during the 2004 Spartan Classic on September 5, 2004.
A season-long three-game road stretch will take the Spartans into the Western Athletic Conference portion of their 2008 schedule, as they will head to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, September 26, San Diego State University in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, September 28, and to area rival Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., on Friday, October 3. The date with Air Force will be the second match between the squads after a 2-1 Falcon victory at the 1996 Cowgirl Soccer Classic in Laramie, Wyo., while the trip to San Diego will be the Spartans’ third all-time and first visit there since 1998, the third and final year in which they were fellow WAC members with the Aztecs.
The WAC season will kick off on Friday, October 10, with San Jose State hosting the rival Bulldogs of Fresno State at Spartan Field at 3:00 p.m. The Spartans will then make what they hope to be the first of two trips during the coming season to Reno, Nev., to face the Wolf Pack of Nevada in a WAC game on Sunday, October 12, at 1:00 p.m.
In one final non-conference tilt for 2008, San Jose State will play another new NCAA Division I member in Cal State Bakersfield for the first time in program history at Spartan Stadium on Wednesday, October 15.
Returning to conference action, the Spartans travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, to take on the Rainbow Wahine of the University of Hawai’i on Sunday, October 19. UH represented the WAC at the 2007 NCAA Championship after earning its first conference tournament title in Boise, Idaho.
San Jose State wraps up the home schedule with two more WAC contests the following weekend, against Louisiana Tech at Spartan Field on Friday, October 24, and Utah State on Sunday, October 26, at 1:00 p.m. on Senior Day at Spartan Stadium.
One final regular-season road trip will take the Spartans to the state of Idaho to meet up with the Idaho Vandals on Friday, October 31, and Boise State on Sunday, November 2.
The 2008 WAC Tournament will once again be staged at Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nev., where Nevada won its first conference tournament crown when the Wolf Pack first hosted the event back in 2006. The dates are Thursday through Sunday, November 6-9, with the top six regular-season finishers among eight WAC members gaining qualification, and the tournament winner earning the WAC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Championship, set for a November 14 start. The 2008 NCAA Women’s College Cup will be held in Cary, N.C., December 5 and 7.
San Jose State completed the 2007 season at 4-15-2 overall and 2-5 in the WAC. In 2008, San Jose State will be in search of its first winning campaign since it went 12-7-1 in 1999. The Spartans return nine letterwinners and a trio of fourth-year seniors in Jennifer Guadagnolo, Lauren Moniz and Kaila Waitley. Guadagnolo and Moniz were designated by Leightman recently as team co-captains. San Jose State has reached the WAC Tournament in three straight years, getting to the championship game in 2005 and the semifinal round in 2006.