Women's soccer ready and anxious for exhibition opener

San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University women’s soccer team has wrapped up double days and is in final preparations for an exhibition game at Sonoma State University on Friday, August 18.

The Spartans will take on Sonoma State, a member of the NCAA Division II and the California Collegiate Athletic Association, at Seawolf Field in Rohnert Park, Calif., beginning at 4:00 p.m.

SINGLE PRACTICE THURSDAY

San Jose State had its final day of two-a-day practices on Wednesday, August 16. The Spartans will hold a training session from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 17, before taking the afternoon off ahead of Friday’s match. Practices are held at Spartan Field on the San Jose State University campus, at the corner of 10th and Alma streets, across the street from San Jose Municipal Stadium. All sessions are open to the public.

“I think the training and the double days in particular have gotten a little old,” said head coach Dave Siracusa, who is entering his third season in charge. “The players are ready to see another opponent. They have been going really hard (in practice), and they are ready to see another uniform. The level of effort has been there the whole time. The level of play is at a high standard.

“Defensively, we are trying to shore up the rotation. We have been working on attacking out of the back, and getting our outside backs involved in the attack. Offensively with the midfielders and forwards, we have been working on pattern play, timing and speed of play.

“We will taper down for the rest of the week, and take it a little easier. We want to have a little bounce in our step for Sonoma State on Friday.”

“Training has gone well for the most part,” added Nicole Martinez, one of three senior tri-captains this season. “We are starting to come together and get to know each other. The incoming freshmen are strong. We need to play one game and fully see ourselves, get better and bring us together.”

SPARTANS FACE OFF WITH THE SEAWOLVES

San Jose State and Sonoma State have never met in regular-season play in 11 years since the Spartan program began. The Spartans did defeat the Seawolves, 1-0, in an exhibition game a year ago at Spartan Field on August 19, 2005. Jennifer Guadagnolo, now in her sophomore season, tallied the game’s only goal, 2:24 into the first sudden-victory overtime period.

“It should be a good game,” said senior tri-captain Cristin Murphy. “It will allow us to see where we are at in a game situation. We’ll be able to get a feel of the new players, and compete against somebody else. We are definitely ready to play somebody else.”

Sonoma State posted a record of 8-8-3 overall and 7-4-3 in the CCAA a season ago. Luke Oberkirch, now in his 12th season with a career mark of 140-61-20, is the Seawolf head coach.

The senior quartet of Khyra Buchanan (seven goals, three assists in 2005), Emily Thompson (three goals, second-team All-CCAA), Courtney Oates (All-CCAA honorable mention) and Megan Catton (three goals, one assist) are listed as top returners for Sonoma State.

The Spartans were picked to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference in a preseason poll conducted by the league’s eight head coaches. Junior Nicole Irwin, a 2005 first-team All-WAC selection, and sophomore Jessica Scott, each earned preseason All-WAC distinction. San Jose State returns 15 letterwinners and 10 starters from a team which finished second in the WAC a season ago. Nine incoming freshmen have joined the squad to combine with two redshirt freshmen and nine sophomores on a young squad.

“It’s a challenge because (the freshmen) are so young, but at the same time, they listen really well, which makes it easier to mold everybody together,” explained senior Cynthia Pinkney, entering her second year as a tri-captain, about her leadership role. “All the young players are awesome. They listen and work real hard. The maturity level is definitely there. They are young but mature. As a team, we are ahead of where we were last year at this time.”

The Spartans open the 2006 season for real on the road at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., on Friday, August 25. Kick-off is set for 1:00 p.m. Following three more matches on the road, San Jose State plays its home opener at Spartan Field on Friday, September 8, at 5:00 p.m. against non-conference foe Idaho State University.