Aug. 1, 2006
SAN BRUNO, CA - Gonzaga University's men's soccer team has been picked to finish seventh in the West Coast Conference chase this season in a pre-season vote of the conference coaches.
Two-time defending WCC regular-season champion University of San Francisco was selected as the pre-season favorite to capture its third straight West Coast Conference title, edging out Bay Area rival Santa Clara University. The Dons and the Broncos each received three first place votes, but USF received 32 overall points, while SCU tallied 31 total points. The University of San Diego received the remaining first-place vote and was picked to finish third with 28 points, while Loyola Marymount University garnered 23 points to snag the No. 4 spot. The University of Portland and Saint Mary's College tied for fifth in the poll with 12 points apiece, and Gonzaga rounded out the poll at No. 7 with nine points.
San Francisco, who went undefeated over its final five league contests to win its second straight conference crown last season, brings back seven starters including the team's top four goal scorers from the 2005 campaign. Senior Aaron Chandler, the 2004 WCC Player of the Year, returns in the attack and will be joined in the starting lineup by 2005 WCC Defensive Player of the Year Rob Valentino. Head Coach Erik Visser also returns senior goalkeeper Geremy Uhl, who enters the season ranked eighth on the WCC career list with 17 shutouts.
Gonzaga checked in at No. 7 despite the return of junior forward George Josten, who led the WCC with 12 goals last season, and junior keeper Vito Higgins who posted a 1.39 goals against average. The Bulldogs' Einar Thorarinsson was tabbed for WCC Co-Coach of the Year accolades after leading the Zags to a 7-9-4 finish in 2005.
2006 Men's Soccer Pre-season Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Team Pts.1. San Francisco (3) 322. Santa Clara (3) 313. San Diego (1) 284. Loyola Marymount 235. Portland 12 Saint Mary's 127. Gonzaga 9