San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University women’s soccer team will have nine home dates and two opponents from the 2008 NCAA Division I Championship on its 19-game 2009 regular-season schedule, as announced by second-year head coach Jeff Leightman on Wednesday, July 15.
For the second season in a row, the Spartans are slated to embark directly on their new campaign with a home match against top area foe Santa Clara, on Friday, August 21. Kick-off on the brand-new FieldTurf inside Spartan Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m.
Exactly one week later, San Jose State will contest the second half of the first of two Spartan soccer doubleheaders for 2009, hosting San Diego State at approximately 7:30 p.m. after the men take on Cal State Monterey Bay in exhibition action at 5:00 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.
A season-long four-game stretch away from home against East Coast opponents will follow. The Spartans first participate in the University of San Francisco odwalla Nike Classic at Negoesco Stadium in the City. San Jose State matches up with defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champion and 2008 NCAA Championship qualifier Fairfield (Conn.) University in the tourney opener at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 4, and Long Island University of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Northeast Conference at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 6. The Blackbirds are coming off a 2008 season in which they posted a program-best 16 wins and an unbeaten league mark while earning a regional ranking for the first time.
Leightman takes his Spartans cross country the following weekend, stopping first in Easton, Pa., to play the Lafayette College Leopards of the Patriot League on Friday, September 11. San Jose State moves on to Washington, D.C., two days later to face Howard University, a first-year member of the eight-team Great West Conference.
A three-match homestand, the longest of the season, awaits San Jose State underneath the lights at Spartan Stadium against UC Davis on Friday, September 18, and Notre Dame de Namur on Tuesday, September 22, both at 7:00 p.m., and Air Force on Friday, September 25, at 7:30.
The Western Athletic Conference portion of the 2009 schedule begins in difficult fashion on the road at the University of Hawai’i in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday, October 2, at 7:00 pm HT.
The WAC will have a new look this year in women’s soccer, as New Mexico State has added a program to create a nine-team league and balanced eight-game schedule in 2009.
San Jose State returns to the mainland and makes the shorter trek to the state capital on Sunday, October 4, taking on the Sacramento State Hornets in a non-league tilt at 3:30 p.m.
The Spartans conclude the regular season with seven of eight matches against WAC foes, beginning at home with Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, both at Spartan Stadium, on Friday night, October 9 (7:30 p.m.), and Sunday afternoon, October 11 (1:00 p.m.), respectively.
San Jose State travels to meet the Nevada Wolf Pack in Reno, Nev., on Friday, October 16, at 7:00 p.m., and then on to Logan, Utah, to face the 2008 WAC regular-season champion Utah State Aggies on Sunday afternoon, October 18.
Idaho pays Spartan Stadium a visit on Friday night, October 23, for a 7:00 p.m. affair. San Jose State contests a final non-conference match at Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday, October 25, at 11:00 a.m.
On Friday night, October 30, San Jose State welcomes defending WAC Tournament champion Fresno State to Spartan Stadium, with a kick-off time of 5:00 p.m. The Spartans will be taking on the rival Bulldogs on Senior Night, with that contest followed by the men’s team taking on UNLV in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action at approximately 7:00 p.m.
San Jose State concludes the regular season at Boise State on Sunday afternoon, November 1.
The Spartans will be looking to make a second trip back to Boise, Idaho, within just days, as the WAC Tournament returns to the Broncos’ Boas Tennis and Soccer Complex for the third time in the last five years, running from Thursday through Sunday, November 5-8. Once again, only the top six regular-season finishers will make the trip, with the WAC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division I Championship on the line.
The NCAA Championship will have the first of its five rounds take place on Friday, November 13, with the 2009 Women’s College Cup set for College Station, Texas, December 4 and 6.
San Jose State went 5-11-4 overall and 2-4-1 in the WAC a year ago in Leightman’s first season at the helm, placing in a tie for fifth in the final league standings. Making a fifth straight appearance at the WAC Tournament, the Spartans dropped a narrow 2-1 decision to Boise State on the first day at Nevada’s Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nev. San Jose State returns 16 of 20 letterwinners from 2008, and all but one starter.
“We’re excited about our 2009 schedule,” remarked Leightman. “It’s definitely challenging. It features a good mix of teams from different areas, so it gives us an opportunity to play some new teams, maybe that we haven’t played before, and see some different styles.
“We open up with Santa Clara, and that’s always a local rivalry game. It’s a challenge right from the start. You know where you stand right away (when you play Santa Clara so early in the year), which is a great thing. We’ve got them in Spartan Stadium again (for a second straight year), and that is a positive. We always want to measure ourselves and find out where we are in that opening game. It’s a great opening challenge for us.
“San Diego State is another solid opponent and a CSU (California State University) rival, so that continues a good start for us. We head up to San Francisco’s tournament, where we get two strong Northeast Region schools. Fairfield was in the (NCAA) tournament (last year) and had a very good record. That is a tough team to play, as is LIU, especially both on turf at USF. Obviously, these are teams that I know well from my experience on the East Coast. Then we go to the East Coast and play two games there, so we’ll have four East Coast teams right in a row. Going to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will be a great experience for our players, to play teams that we don’t normally play, and to see a region of the country where they maybe have never been to. Going to the nation’s capital will be great for our players.
“We come back with UC Davis and Air Force. Both will help prepare us going into conference play. When we get into conference play, we start off at Hawai’i. It is always difficult to fly out to Hawaii and play them there. They are very good and tough to play at home. Their crowd is unbelievable, loud and very into the match. It’s a fun environment.
“We come home and play LA Tech and New Mexico State, who is new, so they are going to be an interesting team, because we don’t really know what to expect with them. Then we hit the road for Nevada and Utah State, who won the regular season last year.
“The WAC schedule is competitive every year. The WAC is a balanced conference in that there’s nobody outstanding, and there’s nobody easy. Every game is a battle, and every one is tough to play. There’s nobody that’s going to run away with it, but there’s also nobody who’s so poor that you just pencil them in as a victory. It makes the conference very interesting and unique in that before the season is played, there is no “favorite.” Every year, there’s been a new champion. I don’t think anyone’s repeated for quite some time (since 2004), so it gives us a chance to compete right away, hopefully for a WAC championship. The bottom line is our non-conference schedule is challenging. We want to prepare ourselves for the rigors of the WAC.”